Sean O'Driscoll impressed by leaders in Young Lions group

Tuesday 19 May 2015
England U17s won last year's Euro title and will play for O'Driscoll's U19s next season
England Under-19s boss Sean O’Driscoll admits he is looking forward to inheriting next season’s squad for a new Euro challenge.

O’Driscoll’s team this term narrowly missed out on qualifying for the U19 Championship finals in their Elite Qualifying Round in France in March.

But the former AFC Bournemouth, Doncaster Rovers and Nottingham Forest manager will take over a new year group in August, the same players who became European Champions at U17 level last year.

England U17s lift the European U17 Championship title in Malta

Sean O'Driscoll will inherit the same squad who became Euro champions as U17s in 2014

They have been playing for the U18s under Neil Dewsnip this campaign and have picked up some impressive results along the way, beating nations such as Holland, Poland and Switzerland in double-headers.

"I’ve watched them quite a few times and Neil has been waxing lyrical about the character in the group and the dynamic between them," O’Driscoll told TheFA.com.

"You often see teams that are crying out for a bit of leadership in certain areas but one of the big things with this group is that there are quite a few leaders.

"You can see that when they play and in a non-competitive year, their aim was to be the best team in Europe.

Sean O

Sean O'Driscoll was appointed as England U19s head coach in September 2014 and is now preparing for his first full season in charge

"That’s a fantastic aim and they’ve gone out and tried to demonstrate that ahead of next season with the U19s when it’s a competitive season."

For a set of players so young, next season’s batch of U19s already have experience of what is required to win at development level.

And with next season’s U19s campaign offering the chance to qualify for the 2017 U20 World Cup, it is a target which O’Driscoll has already set for his new squad.

"We can hopefully go one step further next season and qualify for the Euro Championship and if we do, it could lead to an U20 World Cup," he explained.

"That would be a great experience, for the players to go into a World Cup scenario at such a young age."

With FA Chairman Greg Dyke’s England Commission and an aim for World Cup success in 2022, O’Driscoll believes the exposure that competing in the U20 edition would give to those involved could only enhance England’s chances.

"They will have an understanding of what it takes," he added.

Watch highlights from the Young Lions' win over the Dutch earlier this season

"What we’re trying to do with the development of England internationals is to make sure they have different experiences. 

"So when they come to the crunch in a qualifier, or they come to take penalties and those sort of things, they’ve already come through them and understand what it needs.

"They’re a group of lads who did that and won something at U17 level and they’ve just had a non-competitive year with more game experience and some experimenting.

"You can have 20 years of experience. But if that’s one year replicated 20 times then it’s one year of experience.

"So they’ll be coming back into a competitive year with focus and really hoping that they can win the U19s and do ‘the double’."

By Nicholas Veevers