Steve Cooper hopes to maintain high standards

Friday 28 Aug 2015
England Under-17s head coach Steve Cooper
Steve Cooper says The FA International Tournament has been the ideal preparation for England Under-17s’ European Championship Qualifiers.

The Young Lions head coach has seen his side record back-to-back victories over Italy and Turkey this week to set up a winner-takes-all clash against Portugal on Sunday.

And although he is naturally targeting extending that run against the Portuguese at Burton Albion on Sunday, the former Liverpool academy manager is more concerned with the style of play his side produce.

England v Portugal

The FA International Tournament
3pm, Sunday 30 August
Pirelli Stadium, Burton Albion
Tickets £3 adults and £1.50 kids

“If you are an elite footballer you want to win every game that you play, but I think they also understand the way we want to win and play,” he told

“That’s very important – and the way we want to play will develop them as players but also get the results that they want as well.

“Going into UEFA competition it is important they realise that results and performances go hand-in-hand.”

Having watched his team sweep aside the Italians in a 3-0 win on Wednesday, Cooper’s youngsters were made to work harder on Friday as they secured a battling 2-1 triumph over Turkey.

And whatever happens on Sunday against the competition’s other 100 per cent side, the 36-year-old believes the challenges faced over the past week will prove to be a valuable learning curve for his squad ahead of next month’s Euro qualifiers.

“Getting the boys back together was always something to look forward to. The first event of the campaign was all about preparation and setting them objectives for the forthcoming events starting with next month’s qualifiers, so it’s been great to get out on the training pitch with them again,” he said.

“We’ve had two games now and they provided different types of tests in playing styles – but it’s been good to replicate what the boys will come up against in tournament football.

“It’s been a quick succession of games and there’s been a lot to cover and for the lads to deal with, but it’s been a positive week.”

He concluded: “They are having a busy time with their clubs, some of them have had a few games and some are new into full-time football and playing for points, so it’s important that they recognise what each game gives them.

“Turkey provided a different challenge in the way they dropped off and made it difficult to play our game, so as long as the boys can understand and learn solutions to getting around different playing styles then that can only be good for their development.”

Tickets for England’s clash with Portugal at Burton Albion, kick-off 3pm, are available on the gate for £3 adults and £1.50 kids.

By Gary Stonehouse Staff Writer at St. George's Park, Burton-on-Trent