Tuesday, 25 May, 2010
Head Coach Noel Blake wants his players to focus on performances.
UEFA European U19 Championship
Elite Qualifying Round
26-31 May 2010
Click here for fixtures
By Nicholas Veevers
Head Coach Noel Blake takes his England U19 team into action on Wednesday, eyeing a place in the European u19 Championship Finals in France this summer.
The Young Lions are currently in Kiev, preparing for their Elite Qualifying Round opener against Republic Of Ireland where they will be hoping to make a winning start in their group.
Only one of the four teams involved at this stage will progress to the Finals, with current European U19 champions and hosts Ukraine and Bosnia-Herzegovina being the other two nations battling it out.
Whilst qualification is a main target for Blake and his staff, he is also putting an emphasis on the performances and international development of his players.
“If we are in the Elite Round, the only objective is to try and qualify for the Finals,” revealed Blake. “But equally, it’s about how we perform as well.
“Ultimately, the main objective is to develop international footballers to go on to the Under-21 and Senior team so it is important that they perform well. “
England have been in good form this season, emerging from the First Qualifying Round with a 100 per cent record and beating the likes of Russia and Turkey in friendly games.
So Blake believes that the habit of good results which his team have developed could stand them in good stead and with a number of the squad having already tasted life in a European U19 Championship Final last year, there is no shortage of experience to fall back upon.
“It’s a positive squad and we go to Ukraine in a positive frame of mind, without over-stepping the mark and being over confident,” added Blake.
“We know it will be tough for us, because ultimately, we are England and we know the challenges we face.
“So we will prepare properly and see where it takes us.
“The squad are coming here for tournament experience, but we’re looking for performances and hopefully the results will look after themselves.
“If you don’t perform, you get no rewards and that’s the key for me.”