Move up to U17s has 'made us grow up' says James Yates

Thursday 23 Oct 2014
England U17s and Everton defender James Yates
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James Yates admits that the step up to England U17s is a big one - but says having a coach like John Peacock has helped him "grow up". 

The Everton youngster is part of Peacock's Young Lions squad that arrived in Cyprus on Wednesday as they prepare to face the hosts, Macedonia and France in the first round qualifiers for the European Championship.

Cyprus v England

European U17 Championship
First Round Qualifier
Kouklia Community Stadium, Paphos
1pm, Saturday 25 Octobe

Having represented his country at U16 level, Yates made the move into the U17s for the St. George's Park Tournament in August - a competition that had an impact on him and his team-mates.

"We learned that the U17s is a big step up," he told at the team hotel in Paphos. "The games are a lot more serious, and there is a lot more to play for in each one – which is a big incentive for us.

"Moving up to this age group, and that experience at the SGP Tournament, has really taught us to grow up."

Even though England finished in second place at that friendly tournament, it did plenty to whet the appetite of Yates and he has big ambitions for this campaign - starting with a win over the host nation on the Mediterranean island this Saturday.

"We’ve all settled in now and gotten used to the weather and the other people around the hotel," said Yates. 

"We’ve looked at the videos of Cyprus, how they play, and we are ready and confident we can see it through and get the result.

"On paper, the game will look easy to most people, but it’s a challenge facing the hosts."

John Peacock has twice won the European Championship

John Peacock has won the European Championship twice

He added: "We’ve got John Peacock as head coach, and he knows exactly what is required and has made sure we all know that no team is a push over and we know Cyprus will be a hard game.

“We have to go in with the right mental attitude – which we will."

And having watched his Toffees team-mates Jonjoe Kenny and Ryan Ledson win the Euros in May, the 16-year-old is not short of inspiration - and he believes the man leading them is the best equipped to help guide them to glory.

“Having John Peacock here is fantastic. He’s been there and done it twice, he has all that experience, and will help us all so much”

James Yates 

"Last season was a big inspiration for us. It is hard steps to follow, but having John [Peacock] there is fantastic.

"He’s been there and done it twice, he has all that experience, and will help us all so much." 

He continued: "He was a full-back himself when he played, so individually he has been great with me. 

"He has given me a lot of advice defensively, how to time my tackles, and I’ve brought it into my game since I started working with him."

England face Cyprus at 1pm on Saturday at the Kouklia Community Stadium in Paphos. You can follow @England on Twitter for all the latest from the Young Lions camp.

By Gary Stonehouse Staff Writer in Paphos, Cyprus