Noel Blake believes Turkey will be tricky opponents for U19s' last Euro warm-up game
England U19s v Turkey U19s
International U19 Match
7.30pm, Thursday 21 March 2013
The New Bucks Head Stadium, AFC Telford United
Ticket Prices: £3 Adults £1 Concessions
Call 01952 640 064
By Nicholas Veevers
Noel Blake believes Turkey will offer his England U19 side the perfect finale before May’s Elite Qualifying Round.
The Young Lions face their visitors in Telford on Thursday night, the last chance for Blake to work with his squad ahead of their crucial qualifiers in Belgium in two months.
And with Belgium, Scotland and Georgia lying in wait, the Head Coach feels Turkey will be a good standard to test his players.
Blake said: “Having already played six matches this season, I believe this game will prove to be one of our severest tests but one that our players are looking forward to.
“Like us, Turkey have qualified for recent Euro Finals both at U17 and U19 level and have done well in those tournaments and they have also been producing some top quality players for their senior squad.
“Turkey possess some very good individual players at this level and will also play with a strong team ethic.
“Having watched a few of their recent games on DVD, I know they are capable of having long spells of possession and it’s what we do during those spells that will be critical.”
England’s most recent game saw them beat a strong Denmark team by 3-1 in Doncaster last month.
And despite the impressive victory that night, Blake still knows where he is looking for improvement from his team.
He explained: “We still need to improve our discipline and patience when the opposition are having long periods of possession.
“We must learn to be more composed both in and out of possession and not be in too much of a hurry to get the ball up to the front players as soon as we’ve regained possession.
“I am looking for us to be more clinical in the final third and make more of the opportunities that we create.
“We have to capitalise on them, because you don’t get too many at international level.
“Our ball retention was quite good against Denmark, but that is also an area that I feel we can still improve on.”
Blake, whose coaching team has been joined by former England captain Tony Adams for this game, has confidence in his players though.
And he wants to see them to show that ability in the final third of the pitch as they look to qualify for this summer’s Euro Finals in Lithuania.
He added: “I will continue to encourage our midfielders and front players to express themselves in the attacking area of the field.
“I want them to take risks and remain positive in and around the opposition’s penalty area.
“For some unknown reason, we don’t shoot enough when we get into good shooting situations.
“I believe we possess some very good technical players, but they must learn to be more consistent with their performances at this level.”