Head Coach and his squad prepare for trip to Georgia.
UEFA European U17 Championship
Elite Qualifying Round
26-31 March 2012
Click here for fixtures
England U17s met up in Manchester earlier this week ahead of their UEFA European U17 Qualifiers in Georgia and Head Coach John Peacock believes it will be another test for his players in what has been a progressive season so far.
The Young Lions have featured in three ‘tournament’ scenarios this season, starting last August when they won The FA International Tournament on home soil before topping the First Qualifying Round group in Serbia to seal their place in the Elite Round in Tbilisi.
Before this trip, Peacock took his squad to the annual Algarve Tournament in Portugal, which was another successful venture for England but now they face their toughest task yet as opposition from hosts Georgia, Ukraine and Spain lie in wait with only the nation who finish top of the group able to progress to May’s Finals in Slovenia.
“We’ve played in three separate ‘tournaments’ this season and we’ve managed to top them all, so we want that to continue,” Peacock told TheFA.com ahead of Friday’s flight out to Georgia.
“The U17 age group is always geared towards the European Finals at the end of the season and we’re one step away now.
“We have a very tough group to come through. Looking at the draw, I feel ours or perhaps one other group, were the toughest we could’ve been given.
“That’s the way in which draws work though, you have to take it and go out there and give it your all, which is what we’ll do.”
Since meeting up on Tuesday, Peacock has been happy with the way his squad have trained and bonded again too, which always bodes well on a trip like this.
Even the withdrawal of three players from the initial 18-man squad hasn’t dampened spirits too much, with Peacock happy at the strength in depth shown by this season’s group of players.
“We’re all well and looking forward to the trip,” he added.
“We’ve had three players withdraw through injury, but this is a strong group and I’m lucky that we had a good group of players on stand-by.
“Of course, that happens every time you select a squad and you get used to it so we’re travelling out there prepared for the games and looking forward to it.
“We’ve had a lot of games this season and all of the players that have been involved have done very well.
“So it’s about giving players an opportunity to perform at this level and they’ve all responded well when that’s happened.”
England’s first game arrives on Monday afternoon when Ukraine are the opponents, followed by Georgia on Wednesday and then the final match with Spain on Saturday 31 March,
“We will be fully prepared,” assured Peacock.
“I’ve been through DVDs of all three teams and the lads will know what they’re up against so we will go into the matches with confidence and look to come out on top.
“They’re all going to be tricky games, as you’d expect at this stage of the competition. They will each offer a different challenge for us, but they’re interesting games and you can’t expect to get to the Finals of any competition without overcoming some top nations along the way.
“It will be another great experience for all of them, going to a place where none of them have ever been before and playing in that sort of environment.
“It’s educational as much as anything, they can see a different culture and how things work and playing in a different atmosphere.”