No easy fixtures
Wednesday, 26 May, 2010
Blake warns Young Lions of three tough fixtures this week.
UEFA European U19 Championship
Elite Qualifying Round
26-31 May 2010
Click here for fixtures
By Nicholas Veevers
England U19s get their Elite Qualifying Round games underway later today and Head Coach Noel Blake has warned his charges that they can expect a thorough test in each and every one of their three games.
The Young Lions know they must finish top of their four team group above hosts Ukraine, Republic of Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina if they are to reach the European U19 Championship Finals in France later this year and they kick things off on Wednesday morning against the Irish.
With many of the players from both teams familiar with each other through their club football, some of them even being team-mates, and the fact that it’s something of an ‘international derby’, Blake is expecting a tough encounter in Kiev.
“Ireland will be a hard game,” he admitted.
“Many of the players will know each other from playing with each other and against each other at club level so we expect a tough game against the Republic.
“We played Northern Ireland in the group stages in Belfast last season and then came up against Scotland in the Elite Round and both of those were very difficult fixtures.
“We know what to expect when we play British teams.”
Blake believes it won’t get any easier after that, with Bosnia up next on Friday before the final match with Ukraine on Monday evening.
“We know we face three very different and very tough games out here, there’s no question about that,” he added.
“Since I’ve been involved with the organisation, I’ve never come across what you might call an ‘easy fixture’.
“People always compete very well and it’s international football so you’re playing against the elite players from these countries.”