TheFA.com's Nicholas Veevers blogs from Turkey as England U20s move to World Cup base
By Nicholas Veevers in Antalya
We’re now only two days away from England's kick-off in the U20 World Cup and it’s beginning to hit home to the squad just what lies ahead.
After a week of hard work in training and a chance to relax off the pitch for the players at their first World Cup base in Belek, there’s no escaping the fact that a World Cup is upon on them now.
Wednesday saw the squad move the short distance from the Titanic Deluxe to the official World Cup base in the region, the Rixos Hotel in Antalya.
And they were greeted with the various logos, mascots and the sight of players from the other three nations who share Group E with them.
There has been a noticeable increase in the tempo at training over the last two days too, as illustrated by the video of Thursday’s session on FATV.
With the players all taking part in last week’s warm-up against Uruguay and having a chance to impress Peter Taylor in action, they are now up against each other for a place in the starting line-up.
The Head Coach has given no clues to his thinking ahead of Sunday’s opener with Iraq, so it’s very much a case of working hard and playing for a place in the line-up.
The opening games are France v Ghana in Istanbul and Cuba v Korea Republic in Kayseri on Friday evening and with the matches all being televised here, it won’t take long for the players to realise just what they’re involved in.
With Chile, Egypt and Iraq all at the same hotel too, it’s always an interesting time as we await the start of the group games.
Sunday's opponents Iraq have an experienced squad, with the majority having already earned senior caps.
In fact, five of their squad members only arrived in Antalya on Thursday evening after featuring in Iraq’s senior World Cup qualifier with Australia in Sydney on Tuesday.
They’ll be hoping to be fully adjusted for this competition by the time Sunday evening comes around, but they will face and England side who have been well-prepared.
The spirit has been strong in the squad since meeting up at St. George’s Park as can be seen by some of the footage caught on FATV in the last week.
But beneath the fun and camaraderie, there is a steely determination to succeed and go far in this competition.
Saturday is FIFA's 'Matchday -1' which sees the squad train at the stadium in Antalya and Peter Taylor face his first official press conference.
After that, the World Cup awaits.