'We must be at our best'
By Jamie Bradbury in Reykjavik
Thursday, 06 October, 2011
Nathan Delfouneso knows what to expect from Iceland on Thursday night.
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Nathan Delfouneso has fond memories of Reykjavik and would love a repeat of his last visit to Iceland.
England Under-21s take on their Euro 2013 Group 8 opponents in the capital on Thursday night with three important points up for grabs. Both sides will be looking for a return to the UEFA Under-21 Championship Finals in two years after getting knocked out at the group stage in Denmark this summer.
And for Delfouneso, this will be the second time he has played at Laugardalsvöllur, the Iceland national stadium, after his senior Aston Villa debut came in a UEFA Cup qualifying round game against FH Hafnarfjörður here in 2008 aged just 17. Villa won that game 4-1.
“As soon as we arrived here on Tuesday I recognised the area. I made my first competitive appearance for the club here, so I have nice memories and it’s nice to be back,” he told TheFA.com
“Training on the pitch today was good, it’s a nice pitch, very wet but decent to pass on so should suit us.”
And the Villa striker has mixed feelings about Thursday’s rivals. The two nations met in a pre-Euro 2011 friendly at Deepdale in March. Delfouneso got England off to a great start with the first goal, but Stuart Pearce’s men were later pegged back and conceded two as the visitors ran out 2-1 winners.
“This will be a very tough game, especially having played against them in Preston a few months ago,” admits the 20-year-old former Burnley loanee.
“They are a decent side and beat us 2-1 then, so we have to be at our best. We are looking forward to it, though, and we’ll try to put it right this time.
“They came at us and played well. They are very good on the ball, very good technically, they are physically strong and a confident side too. We will have to stick to our plan, make sure we play to our best because if we don’t we’ll find it very difficult.”
He added: “It was nice to get a goal, Rosey [Danny Rose] was playing that night, and I made the run, he found me and I composed myself before putting it in the net. I want to score as many goals as I can and contribute to the team, that’s what I’m there for.” [Click the link on the right to watch highlights of the game and see Nathan's goal]
And after bagging another goal from the spot in the 6-0 group opening win against Azerbaijan in Watford last month, the Birmingham-born forward is hoping the team can build on the three points as they look to take the control of qualifying.
“We got off to a good start against Azerbaijan, it was a good passing performance and we scored some nice goals,” he said. “It’ll be a different environment for us here though, a different crowd so we have to put in a good performance again and make sure we get the points on the board.
“There are a lot of good teams in this group and everyone stands a chance of winning, but we have to concentrate on ourselves.
“After the last successful trip we had we picked up two victories, so we’re all happy to be back and a ready to go. Hopefully we can get two more wins, here and in Norway on Monday, and push on in the group.”
The match on Thursday night will be broadcast live in England on ESPN.
For tickets for England's next home game against Iceland at Colchester United on 10 November, click here for ticket details.