Jake Forster-Caskey's Toulon inspiration for England U20s

Thursday 07 May 2015
Jake Forster-Caskey has started the last two England Under-21 games
This month’s Toulon Tournament may be seen as something of a curtain-raiser for an exciting summer of football for England.

Aidy Boothroyd’s U20s will head to the south of France for the competition where they will play Mexico, Morocco, Ivory Coast and China, after having a four-day training camp at St. George’s Park later in May.

And the players involved will not have to look too far for inspiration, as they will be joined at the National Football Centre by a number of the Under-21s squad, who are preparing for their European Championship Finals in Czech Republic.

England Under-21s

Forster-Caskey has been an U21s regular since first breaking into the squad last May

Among those U21s, made up of the players from Championship clubs whose season is now finished, will be Jake Forster-Caskey.

And the Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder has advice of his own for the U20s ahead of their own trip, after making his international return a year ago in Toulon and becoming an U21s regular ever since.

"It started in Toulon for me and I got myself back among the international set-up," said Forster-Caskey, who was last capped at U18s level in 2011 before Southgate selected him again last May.

"It was a good tournament and there was a few of us who came into the squad for the first time at the same stage last year.

"I spoke to the gaffer [Southgate] the other day and I’ll be heading up there to train for a few days.

Jake Forster-Caskey enjoys a midfield tussle against Qatar.

Jake Forster-Caskey in action against Qatar at last year's Toulon Tournament

"There won’t be too many of the boys, but we’ll be with the U20s and it will be nice to have a feel of the ball again which is much better than just running on a treadmill so we can get more out of it."

By his own admission, the 21-year-old has had something of a topsy-turvy campaign with Brighton this term.

The Seagulls have spent the majority of the season in the lower half of the Championship and had a change of manager in mid-season, with Forster-Caskey finding himself in and out of the team.

So a mini-break before the first training camp with the U20s and then before the squad head to Czech Republic for the Euros in June comes at a good time for the playmaker.

"I’ve got two weeks now to go on holiday and rest my body, it’s not so much that my body is tired, but mentally from the hard season that we’ve had at Brighton," he explained.

"It’s been a bit up and down this season really, it seems like one minute I’m away with England and everything is on a high and then with Brighton, it’s often been a bit of a struggle so it’s been a strange season in many ways.

Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder Jake Forster-Caskey looks to evade Arsenal

Forster-Caskey in FA Cup action for Brighton against Arsenal earlier this season

"Everybody knows that we’ve struggled this season and it can take its toll mentally, but now I can switch off from football for a little bit and keep ticking over and then when I’m back, it’ll be straight into it.

"I’m very excited for it and I’ve just got to try and keep my body in shape and have one eye on the tournament whilst switching off at the same time.

"I do think that’s important and the boys that are finishing later with their clubs will get a bit of down-time too.

"That’s important when you’re going to be away for a long period, just to spend some time with the family and put yourself in a good frame of mind."

The Three Lions squad will meet up at St. George’s Park to start their Euro preparations in early June before they face Portugal in their first group game on Thursday 18 June.

Highlights of England's game in Middlesbrough in March

And after playing a part in the back-to-back wins over Czech Republic and Germany in March, Forster-Caskey says spirits are high.

"Before those games, the confidence was already high but when you beat the likes of Portugal, Germany and Czech Republic, who are also going to the tournament, you get more confident and it helps," he added.

"But they were only friendlies and the tournament games will be different, so we know we can’t get ahead of ourselves but on current form we’re going in there strongly."

By Nicholas Veevers