2008 promises to be a big year for England's youth teams with three squads targeting competition finals.
All of England’s youth teams have a big year ahead of them in 2008, none more so than the Under-21 squad who continue their qualification campaign for the UEFA 2009 European Championships.
It has started well for Stuart Pearce’s team, who have won five out of their six games so far, after being held to a draw in Portugal in November which brought to an end a fantastic 2007.
After coming so close to success in the European Championships in Holland over the summer, the momentum and confidence garnered from that run to the Semi-Finals has been carried over into the fresh campaign and everyone will be looking to keep that going in 2008.
Next up in opposition are the Republic Of Ireland, who visit St.Mary’s Stadium in Southampton on Tuesday 5 February before Portugal are the opposition again later in the year on Friday 5 September.
Elsewhere, the England U19 squad also have their sights set on the European Championships and after hitting 14 goals over three games with Iceland, Romania and Belgium in October in the First Qualifying Round, they are now onto the Elite Round.
This will see Brian Eastick and his squad go head-to-head with Poland, Serbia and Belarus in May, as they aim to secure a place in the summer tournament.
England’s U17 squad enjoyed a tremendous experience in South Korea for the U17 World Cup during the summer of 2007, embarking on a run that saw them reach the Quarter Final. They lost out to eventual winners Germany there, but given that this was England’s first foray into the competition, all of John Peacock’s players could hold their heads high.
The U17s now have their eye on the European Championships and after enjoying wins over Malta and Estonia before drawing with Portugal in the initial Qualifiers in October, they now look ahead to the Elite Round Qualifying.
They will travel to Israel for those games, when they take on France, Russia and Israel between March 25 and 30.
A new batch of players have formed Kenny Swain’s U16 squad for this season and they have already tasted some success by lifting the Sky Sports Victory Shield after beating both Wales and Scotland and drawing 2-2 with Northern Ireland.
2008 will see the U16s travel to France for the annual Montaigu competition where they will look to continue their development with more success.
Of course, you can always find out what is going on with England’s youth sides through TheFA.com, whether that is squad announcements, fixture details or reports.
Tickets for the Under-21 game with the Republic Of Ireland at St.Mary’s are now on sale. Details of how to get your tickets are below.
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