'I have to lift the lads, we still have it all the play for'

Sunday 17 May 2015
England Under-17s captain Reece Oxford
Reece Oxford has backed England Under-17s’ strikers to fire the Young Lions to the World Cup in Chile.

The West Ham United defender captained the side as their European Championship dreams were ended with a 1-0 quarter-final defeat against Russia on Saturday – a game in which they dominated but just could not find the target.

They now have a chance to claw some pride back when they face Spain in a World Cup play-off match on Tuesday.

Although neither have yet to find the target since their arrival at the Euros in Bulgaria, Oxford is confident team-mates Ike Ugbo and Stephy Mavididi can produce the firepower to book their place at the showpiece in South America this October.

Spain v England

FIFA Under-17s World Cup
Play-off match
2pm, Sliven, Bulgaria
Tuesday 19 May 2015

“Stephy and Ike are both top strikers and have goals in them. They might think they are having a bit of a drought right now, but I’ve played against them both for West Ham and I know they can finish,” the 16-year-old told TheFA.com.

“I believe that if they can just get that first one, then they will kick on and get a few. Hopefully that will be the case on Tuesday.”

Mavididi struck the post following Nathan Holland’s penalty miss against Russia, and Ugbo was denied an equaliser late on by the keeper.

Despite the heartache of the defeat, Oxford says he will be rallying round his wounded troops to ensure all eyes are focussed on the Spanish.

“We just couldn’t finish against Russia. When we missed the penalty and then hit the post with the rebound, and then when we hit the crossbar in the second half, you do start to think that it’s going to be one of those games,” he said.

“But we can’t dwell on it - we’ve got a massive game against Spain coming up. I’ve got to get all the lads lifted as we still have the chance to go to the World Cup.

'Stephy and Ike are both top strikers and have goals in them'

Oxford on his team-mates Mavididi and Ugbo

“It would be great if we can achieve that. You can really make a name for yourself at a World Cup. We want to get there to show how good we are and what we are capable of.”

And with the stakes so high for such a one-off match, Oxford revealed the mindset of the squad heading into the clash.

“It’s going to be a game but it shouldn’t be hard to raise ourselves for it – it’s a World Cup and we know that.

“We may never get the chance to play in one again and we all want that experience.

“I’ve never been to South America too, and I don’t think any of the others have, so we’d be over the moon if we can get the job done.

“We’ll be treating it like a cup final and giving it 100 per cent – we are desperate to qualify.”

By Gary Stonehouse Staff Writer in Pomorie, Bulgaria