Steve Cooper thrilled as U17s exhibit England DNA qualities

Thursday 27 Aug 2015
Steve Cooper (r) speaks to his assistant Mike Marsh (l)

Steve Cooper was thrilled at the way his players clicked straight back into “England mode” as his Under-17s defeated Italy on Wednesday.

The Young Lions, who Cooper took charge of last season at U16 level before moving up with the group this summer, produced a sizzling display as they swept the Azzurrinni aside in a 3-0 victory at AFC Telford.

A tremendous strike from Adam Lewis and two Sadou Diallo penalties ensured the comprehensive scoreline.

England 3-0 Italy

U17s UEFA International Tournament
Wednesday 26 August 2015
New Bucks Head Stadium, AFC Telford

In the second-half England could have stretched their advantage further as they controlled the possession and tempo and pulled their opponents around the park.

“We could not have asked for a better start to the season,” Cooper told 

“One of the pleasing aspects was that it was the first game since we were last together in April. 

"You are always wanting and hoping the players will pick up where they left off, not only in attitude and work rate, but the style of play and the intentions of how we want to dominate games.

“We had seen it in training beforehand to be honest, and that was probably the most pleasing aspect that they were able to quickly adapt back into England mode and how we want our teams to look and play.”

Adam Lewis, left, celebrates his stunning strike

Adam Lewis celebrates his strike against Italy

After the launch of ‘England DNA’ in December 2014, the performance produced will have been particularly pleasing for Cooper – and he believes it is the way his players want to play too.

“It’s two things – that’s how we want to play and that’s what I think the players are best at. We need to play with the ball as much as possible with controlled possession, but at the same time, move up the pitch as a team.

“Second half I thought was a good example of that and that’s why we got into so many good attacking positions with real opportunities to get assists and scoring chances.”

This week is the final preparation for Cooper and his Young Lions ahead of next month’s European Championship First Round Qualifiers.

“We want to do well in every game that we play, but we are also looking at the bigger picture too”

Steve Cooper England U17s head coach

Turkey are the next opponents for England on Friday at Walsall before facing off against Portugal at Burton Albion on Sunday, and the former Liverpool academy manager insists he will be using the full depth of his squad in the remainder of the UEFA International Tournament.

“The objective of the competition was to give each player a fair amount of minutes on the pitch. 

"Opportunities will be there at Walsall for those that didn’t start. It is an opportunity for the squad to prepare for the season.

“We want to do well in every game that we play, but we are also looking at the bigger picture too, so you will see players being given that opportunity in the team selection against Turkey.”

Tickets for all England games in the SGP Tournament cost just £3 for adults and £1.50 for concessions from the hosting clubs.

It is just 50p per ticket for groups of 15 and over and FA Charter Standard clubs, with the relevant forms available to download below.

The non-England games take place at St. George’s Park and are not open to the public.

Friday 28 August

3pm, Portugal v Italy, St. George's Park
7pm, England v Turkey, Banks's Stadium, Walsall FC
Click here for Group Booking Form
Click here for Charter Standard Booking Form

Sunday 30 August
3pm, Italy v Turkey, St. George's Park
3pm, England v Portugal, Pirelli Stadium, Burton Albion FC
Click here for Group Booking Form
Click here for Charter Standard Booking Form

By Gary Stonehouse Staff Writer