As England prepare for Argentina, meet one of the busiest back-room staff.
By James Marshall in Pachuca
Ahead of Thursday's Second Stage game with Argentina, England U17s kit manager Neil 'Badger' Jones has let the TheFA.com into his kit room to discuss the logistics of a World Cup in Mexico.
In any tournament, the responsibilities of a kit man is one of the most important roles in the entire squad. Preparing kit and equipment for the players and the back-room staff can be a thankless task at times, and the job often requires a good sense of humour and patience.
Lifelong West Bromwich Albion fan Jones has this in abundance and is a firm favourite with most of the players, as his dry sense of humour has often put a lighter mood on his heavy workload in Mexico.
For it’s not just match kit, training kit, casual wear, training equipment, balls, cones, bibs, mannequins, poles and drinks bottles that Jones has to prepare at every session, he also has to make sure all the kit and gear arrives in one piece across a huge country like Mexico.
Logistically, it’s been a mammoth task for Jones, making sure over two tonnes of equipment is safely at each destination in time for the players' arrival which often means moving in advance of the rest of the group.
Since arriving in Mexico on 6 June, the squad have moved between four different hotels from Mexico City when they first arrived, up to Pachuca for the first two games, then to Torreon for last weekend's game with Uruguay before moving back south to Pachuca again, albeit in a different hotel this time.
Jones revealed: “Like at any World Cup, the further a team progresses, the more likely they will move to a different part of the country.
"Mexico has been a real challenge logistically and moving so many times has been difficult, but it’s all part of the job.
“The most important thing is making sure all the kit arrives safely and in-tact at each destination.”
Badger has been working with the U17 team since February, with his first trip coming at the Algarve Cup before he travelled with the U16s to Montaigu and then back with the U17s for the European Championship Finals in Serbia in May, when qualification for the World Cup was secured.
That left him with a tight turnaround to get prepared for the World Cup, but it's been made a lot easier for him as he revealed his enjoyment at working with a great set of players.
“It’s great working with this age group, they are a great set of lads and they help out from time to time and we have a great team spirit in the camp," he added.
"It’s not easy for them being so far away from home so we all try and have a laugh and a joke to pass the time.”
Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is one player often found in Badger’s kit room, listening to his tales of West Brom’s glory years.
“All the lads love winding Badger up on the trip, especially me,” revealed Pickford. “We all have to put up with his tales about West Brom but we don’t mind really as it passes the time inbetween matches.”
Asked how he got his nickname, Jones laughs: "It's probably because I'm going slightly grey at the sides."