Young Lionesses boss targets spot at FIFA Under-17 World Cup

Tuesday 03 May 2016
England Women's U17s boss John Griffiths

After naming his squad for next month’s UEFA Women's Under-17 Championship finals, England head coach John Griffiths said he is targeting a place at the World Cup later this year.

The Young Lionesses have been drawn in Group A alongside Serbia, Norway and host nation Belarus for the eight-team Euro finals.

The top two teams in each group will progress to the semi-finals, while the two finalists and the third-place team will make it to the FIFA U17 Women's World Cup in Jordan this September.

Euro fixtures

Wednesday 4 May: England v Norway
Saturday 7 May: Belarus v England
Tuesday 10 May: Serbia v England


Griffiths acknowledges that his job is to develop players for senior international football and he looks at the Euros and the World Cup as the ideal tournaments to do just that.

He said: “The key for us is getting the balance between winning matches and developing players.

“In the Euro qualifiers we need to win matches to get through to another phase, which will in turn give the players more experience of tournament football.

“If we don’t win they don’t get more games and they don’t develop.

“The target for this year was to try and get to the World Cup and we need to win matches to do that. We’ve got a period of 10 matches that we need to get through to get us to Jordan.

“A World Cup will give the players more tournament experience which will hopefully help them if and when they get into the senior squad.

“Educationally, we want to get to the stage where [England Women’s head coach] Mark Sampson has independent athletes who can make their own decisions based on what he has asked them to do.”

Griffiths, who has led an England team to back-to-back Euro finals, used 22 players in two different stages of qualifying but he has kept faith with the 18 who eased through the elite round last month.


England Women

England Women's U17s line up for the last month's game against Iceland

England came from behind to beat Serbia 3-1 before defeating Iceland and Belgium to maintain their unbeaten Euro run.

And Griffiths has confidence in his charges to make an impression in Belarus.

He added: “The balance and positional mix of players within that group is more than capable and what that mix can give us tactically is good.

“We played Serbia in the qualifiers so meeting them again so soon after will be interesting. Norway will be a very good team, they always are at these age groups. Belarus are a little bit unknown but we’ve done our homework and we’re expecting three very different tests, as is always the case in European competition.

“We just have to make sure we’ve got the capacity to nullify whatever threat our opponents pose.

“But this group of players is probably one of the best prepared groups we’ve had because of the programme we’ve had in place this year which keeps evolving. Our staff have been unbelievable in putting the programme together – genuinely world-leading.”

England begin their Euro finals campaign against Norway on Wednesday 4 May.

By Glenn Lavery