Cooper has England Under-17s ready for Euro action

Thursday 05 May 2016
Steve Cooper

England Under-17s kick-off their European Championship Finals campaign on Friday afternoon when they face Sweden in Baku.

Steve Cooper’s side have been in Azerbaijan for the last six days preparing for the competition and with Denmark and France also in their group, the head coach is expecting a real test.

"We know it’s a tough group with four really good sides,” said Cooper, ahead of the game at the Qarabak Stadium.

England v Sweden

UEFA European U17 Championship
The Finals
4pm, Thursday 5 May 2016
Qarabak Stadium, Azerbaijan
Live on Eurosport Player

"But that’s what you have to expect at a major tournament – we just have to make sure that we’re ready come Sweden on Friday, which is what we’re aiming to do."

Given the long-distance involved in travelling to Azerbaijan, Cooper and his team made the choice to arrive earlier than usual in the host country.

And he says it’s proved to be the right decision with the squad fully settled into their new surroundings in Baku.

"The training facilities and pitches in particular have been first class and there’s no doubt that Baku as a city has really embraced this tournament which is fantastic to see," added Cooper, who takes charge of his first major international tournament.

"The lads are really enjoying being here and we’ve been out a couple of times so they can understand the culture and environment they are going to be in for a few weeks. 

"And that’s a really important aspect of our plan, to ensure they are comfortable in those surroundings."

England last won the U17s Euro title two years ago and also lifted the trophy in 2010, so are one of the more successful nations in the competition.

But when Cooper was asked if he saw his side as one of the favourites for success this time, he was quick to play down any expectations especially given the current holders France are England’s second group opponents next Monday.

"That’s nice to be considered as one of the best teams but as I’ve said, there’s a lot of particularly good teams," he added.

"France are in a good moment and are the current champions and they will pose us a challenge but so will each team. 

"We just need to focus on ourselves and make sure we prepare right for our first three games, which will all be really tough."

By Nicholas Veevers Content Manager - FA Owned Channels