After missing the last European Qualifiers, Sone Aluko is determined to make up for lost time.
England v Russia
International U19 Friendly
7pm, Tuesday 25 March 2008
stadium:mk, Milton Keynes Dons FC
Ticket Hotline: 01908 622900
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Striker Sone Aluko is just itching to get back into action for the Young Lions, following a frustrating spell on the sidelines which saw him ruled out of the previous European Championship qualifiers in October.
Whilst his team-mates picked up impressive wins against Iceland, Romania and Belgium to secure their spot in the next set of qualifiers in May, Aluko was nursing an injury but now that he is fully recovered he is hoping to be fit and ready for the trip to Belarus.
With England’s final warm-up for those games coming in Milton Keynes on Tuesday when Russia offer the opposition, Aluko is ready for action should he be called upon by Brian Eastick.
"That was really frustrating, probably the most frustrating part of my season, to miss those qualifiers in October," admitted Aluko, who is currently on loan with Aberdeen from Birmingham City.
"When I was part of the U17 squad a couple of years ago I missed the qualifiers with injury, and now it's happened again. I can't wait until the next set later this year and hopefully I can be part of it at last.
"You learn so much more from playing games close together, tournament football is all about the whole squad and recovering your fitness in between games, it's so important to learn how to play in that scenario."
With Russia the visitors to stadium:mk, Aluko is convinced that it is an ideal way to prepare for the games against Belarus, Poland and Serbia which will decide whether or not the Young Lions will be heading to the European Championship Finals in the Czech Republic this summer.
The team have already picked up a 2-0 win against Eastern European opposition in the shape of Croatia at Swindon Town in February and now Aluko knows that this will be another good challenge for them.
"These games are crucial and we want to play well and win to prepare for the qualifiers later in the year,” he added.
"We need as much time on the pitch to gel together, understand how we play and the style we can adapt to.
"Both Croatia and also Russia have a similar style to the teams we're going to play in May, so that will be a good test ahead of the competitive games. They come from the same part of the world and we know they'll be very strong and athletic, with good technique."
It has also been something of a learning curve for Aluko during his spell at Pittodrie, where he has been part of Aberdeen’s UEFA Cup run which has taken in games against the likes of Lokomotiv Moscow, Athletico Madrid, Panathinaikos and Bayern Munich.
"It has been incredible,” he admitted.
“It was unbelievable in Madrid, I was on the bench but I didn't come on during the game unfortunately. Around 6,000 of our fans came over and they went mad. It was the best atmosphere I've ever heard.
"Playing against Panathanaikos and Celtic, big teams with passionate fans, it's been a really good experience so far.”
Charter Standard clubs can claim up to 50 free tickets while group bookings are just 50p per person for parties of 15 or more. Just download the forms at the top of the page!
Ground admission costs just £3 for adults in advance (£5 on the day) and £1 for concessions.
Tickets for the game will be available by contacting 01908 622900.