Youth Teams
Youth Teams

England U19 boss Keith Downing wants side to continue summer of success

Saturday 01 Jul 2017
Downing with his group-stage counterparts at the pre-tournament press conference

England Under-19 head coach Keith Downing wants to continue the Young Lions' feel-good factor and make an impression at the UEFA European Championship finals in Georgia.

The summer of 2017 has been a sweet one for England with three trophies, a final and semi-final to cheer about back at St. George's Park.The U17s reached the final of their Euros before the U20s were crowned world champions in South Korea around the same time Neil Dewsnip's mixed-age group won the Toulon Tournament and the women's U23s came out on top at the Nordic Tournament.

And then Aidy Boothroyd's U21s progressed beyond the group stages at Europe's bi-annual competition for the first time since 2009.

Now, as the U19s prepare to face Bulgaria in Tbilisi on Monday, Downing wants to see his talented group maintain that momentum.

Downing was speaking at the official pre-tournament press conference

Downing said: "As a nation, we're starting to improve at major competitions with our U20s winning the World Cup recently in South Korea. We want to continue to push that development through the age groups and it's important that we put our style into the competition.

"I think we're continuing to improve technically and tactically. We're certainly learning from other nations but it's important that we have our own characteristics and we need to put that into this competition.

"We have a squad that was assembled back in September and has got progressively better. We're very competitive with a good set of mixed age players and we're looking forward to giving them further development in their international careers.

"The overall picture is for these boys to develop and hopefully we can get the majority through to senior football. This experience playing against top nations and good player will give them immense help."

As well as Bulgaria, the Young Lions have the Netherlands and Germany to contend with leading some to label Group B as the tournament's 'group of death.'

It will be familiar opponents for Downing as his side draw 1-1 with the Dutch in Telford back in September before beating the Bulgarians 2-1 at Wycombe Wanderers the following month.

The Under-19s line up for their pre-tournament photo

England, who reached the last four of last year's U19 finals in Germany, will also be buoyed by an impressive qualifying campaign that saw them see off the Spanish 3-0 at St. George's Park in March.

"We are very respectful of this strong group," said Downing.

"Bulgaria knocked out (current holders) France in the elite round and we know the Netherlands and Germany will give us very competitive games. We are gaining momentum and we are confident we can do well.

"We played the Netherlands back in September and Bulgaria in October so we are familiar with both of those styles and we're respectful of their strengths.

"I think they will all be really competitive, tight games and individual brilliance may make the difference. Hopefully we have enough talent in our squad to produce some of that brilliance. We're looking forward to it."

By Andy Walker Senior Communications Manager in Tbilisi, Georgia