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The FA

Dewsnip ready for Toulon test

England U18s boss Neil Dewsnip can't wait to take his squad to the Toulon Tournament

Monday 24 Apr 2017

Neil Dewsnip admits he can’t wait to take his Young Lions to Toulon this summer, after finding out their group opponents at the 2017 draw earlier this month.

England will take on Japan, Cuba and Angola in Group A at the prestigious tournament in southern France, with the Under-18s head coach taking charge for the trip.

With England in action at both the U20 World Cup in South Korea in May and June and the U19 Euro Finals in July, it means Dewsnip’s squad is likely to be younger than most of their opponents.

Toulon Tournament 2017
  • 29 May - 10 June 2017
  • Group A: Angola, Cuba, England, Japan
  • Group B: Bahrain, France, Ivory Coast, Wales
  • Group C: Brazil; Czech Republic, Indonesia, Scotland

But Dewsnip is looking forward to seeing how the Young Lions test themselves against a variety of opponents from around the world, having already taken on the likes of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Sweden, Italy, France, Poland and Israel this season.

“This is exactly the way we want the U18s programme to be, where we have freedom outside of European competition, so we can design it the way we want it and all of the games have been very challenging,” said Dewsnip.

“And to end it with a trip to a prestigious and high-profile tournament like Toulon, where we’re going to be challenged and stretched, is exactly what we want to happen.

“It’ll be a first in my coaching career to come up against Cuba and Angola, so it’s fantastic for our players too and it pleases me as it gives us a different challenge.

“With that in mind, it’s been a really successful year for the U18s and the results have stood up nicely, so it’s been really enjoyable in all aspects.”

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Whilst Dewsnip is not ruling out selecting some players from the year groups above the U18s, with this year's Tournament open to players born in 1997 and after, he knows that the experience which a trip to Toulon brings.

The former Everton academy manager has been to the competition as an observer in recent years and saw Gareth Southgate's U21s win the title last summer, so is well versed in what to expect for his players in Provence.

“We will be a younger side than the other teams which brings huge challenges in itself, albeit really exciting ones,” he explained.

“Some of the boys from this age group have already jumped to the U19s and will go to the Euros, so the programme has ticked a box in that sense.

“But for the lads who have played all season as U18s and the ones who have come into the squad a little bit later, it’s a chance to get a little bit more international experience into them before they hopefully touch Aidy [U21s boss Boothroyd] or Gareth’s squads one day.

“International football is tournament football, so the more experience of that which we can get into our players before it all gets very real, we would want to do that.”

By Nicholas Veevers