Continuity the key for U21s
Tuesday, 28 February, 2012
Coach Brian Eastick says it's 'business as usual' for the Young Lions this week.
Watch highlights from training at the Riverside: Finishing Drills | Small-Sided Game
England Under-21s Caretaker Coach Brian Eastick says it’s ‘business as usual’ for the Young Lions as they prepare for a top-of-the-table clash with Belgium in Middlesbrough on Wednesday night.
Eastick has taken the reins in the absence of Stuart Pearce, who’s in charge of the Senior Team for their friendly against Holland on the same night, and is looking for an improvement on their last outing in November, which ended in a 2-1 defeat to the Belgians in Mons.
Three points for England will put them in charge of Group 8 and will almost secure their place in the play-offs for Euro 2013 in Israel.
While Pearce is in London ahead of the meeting with the Dutch at Wembley, he will speak to Eastick, who has been a coach in the Under-21s set-up for the last three years, about the squad as they finalise a starting eleven for the Qualifier at the Riverside.
“We’ll discuss about who has done well in training, we’ll talk a little bit about Belgium, so it’s very much still his team and the thing I’ve tried to instil into all the players is that it’s business as usual," said Eastick following Tuesday training session at the Riverside. [Click the links above to watch action from training]
“I’m involved with Stuart with the Under-21s so I’m very familiar with all the players and the staff, so the key word of this week has been ‘continuity’. Stuart is the manager of the Under-21 team, but I regard it is a privilege to be looking after the team on this occasion.”
And Eastick is not expecting an easy time from the visitors who clawed themselves back into contention in the group with their late winner against the Young Lions. Victory for England, however, will take them seven points clear of Belgium with just two games to play.
Eastick also underlined the importance of England teams reaching major tournaments as the Under-21s look to make it four successive appearances in the European Championship.
“Belgium are a good team and they have three or four very good players. I think we controlled much of the game in November, got ourselves into a good position at one-nil and even at one-one I didn’t think we were in any danger of losing the game. But in any game of football, if you lose concentration, or you concede a goal from a set-play it can change the game.
“We need to be a bit more creative in the final third of the pitch, that’s for sure, and we also need to be aware of them on the counter attack. But if we play at our best tomorrow then I’m confident we can win the game.
He added: “It is vital for England teams to qualify for both UEFA Championships and FIFA World Cups in order to give our best young players much-needed tournament experience. Having reached the European Championship Finals on three successive occasions, as a group of players and staff, we are determined to make it four.”
Tickets for England's meeting with Belgium on Wednesday 29 February 2012 (6pm ko) are still on sale. Call 0844 499 1234, buy online at www.mfc.co.uk or in person at the Riverside ticket office.