Downing keen for victory to wrap up first week with U20s

Sunday 06 Sep 2015
Keith Downing took charge of England U20s for the first time on Saturday

Keith Downing hopes his side can reproduce their quality in public to "put the icing on the cake" after his first meet-up as England Under-20s boss.

Downing’s squad have been training at St. George’s Park for seven days ahead of their game with Czech Republic in Shrewsbury on Monday night.

And they also picked up a 5-0 victory over this week’s opponents in a game behind closed doors at St. George’s Park on Saturday afternoon.

England v Czech Republic

International U20 Match
7.30pm, Monday 7 September 2015
Greenhous Meadow, Shrewsbury
Tickets: £5 adults, £2.50 concessions
Call 01743 273943 for details

Goals from Nottingham Forest’s Tyler Walker (2), Leicester City’s Ben Chilwell and Birmingham City pair Demarai Gray and Reece Brown made sure it was a winning start for Downing, who has been impressed by his players.

"It’s been a good week so far, after coming together for first time Sunday and throughout the rest of the week," he explained.

"The boys have applied themselves extremely well all week and the result on Saturday put the icing on the cake.

"I’ve said to the lads that we’ve now got to finish off the week properly on Monday. 

"They’ve done so well so far and now we’ve got another day to go so they need to show a professional attitude and will to work.

"I don’t envisage it being an easy game, just because we won by five in the first one, they will maybe play their stronger team in the second one but we want to finish strongly and top off the week."

Tyler Walker celebrates his goal against Czech Republic with Cameron Brannagan.

Tyler Walker (9) scored two goals against the Czechs at St. George's Park on Saturday

Downing has had to contend with a few changes since meeting up, with West Ham’s Reece Burke missing the first game in order to feature for loan club Bradford City on Saturday.

The withdrawals of Manchester City’s Kean Bryan and Southampton striker Ryan Seager also meant late additions to the squad in the shape of QPR defender Cole Kpekawa and Forest hitman Walker.

But the former West Bromwich Albion coach has been pleased with the way his squad have bonded, both on and off the pitch, before they travel across to Greenhous Meadow on Monday.

"It has been that kind of week, with the structure of the U20s and some of them playing in the Football League, sometimes they have to go and represent their clubs, so it has been up and down in terms of numbers," he revealed.

"But people like Cole and Tyler have come in later and they’ve shown that they’ve got some talent.

England Under-20s head coach Keith Downing takes a training session.

Downing admits he's enjoyed being 'back on the grass' with England U20s this week

"There are some good players in there, with a good attitude to work,  and I’ve got to say, from the first whistle on Saturday, the intensity with which we played was very good.

"It was a good all-round team display, with Russell Griffiths making a very good save when it was 0-0 to help the defence keep a clean sheet, and we saw some exciting football going the other way."

Downing also admits he had been looking forward to his first meet-up with his new squad and getting the season started, after joining England as an interim coach earlier this summer.

Having left the Hawthorns midway through last season, it was clear to see on Saturday that he was happy to be back on the touchline.

"I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it, it’s been great to be back on the grass after seven months off," he revealed.

"I’ve been massively enthusiastic about it in terms of the coaching side, and they’ve all been really receptive off the pitch - they want to show the staff that they want to be part of this.

"It’s been a great experience and that’s what it’s for, getting the players in on these kind of weeks and mixing with the seniors and Under-21s.

"They’ve all got their eye on that next level, so it’s been a great environment for them."

Tickets for Monday’s game at Greenhous Meadow cost just £5 for adults and £2.50 for juniors and are available by contacting Shrewsbury Town on 01743 273943 or by clicking here.

By Nicholas Veevers at St. George's Park