After leading last season’s England U17s to the World Cup title last month, head coach Steve Cooper is now preparing a new group of Young Lions for the next campaign.
As hosts of next summer’s European U17 Championship Finals, England have already qualified for the tournament in May which will be played across the Midlands and Yorkshire.
- 7pm, Wednesday 8 November
- Chesterfield FC
This week sees them take on Portugal, Russia and Germany in a mini-tournament on home soil, kicking-off on Wednesday evening when Chesterfield FC hosts the first game with the Portuguese.
And Cooper talks us through the process, as he links up with his squad at St. George’s Park after what has been a pretty monumental year for the Young Lions in general.
“There’s no denying we’re in a really good moment, but it’s not just the boys in India as, let’s not forget, the seniors have just qualified as top of their group so they’re going to a World Cup next summer.
The U19s and U20s won the Euros and World Cup respectively and the U21s got to the Euro semi-finals, the furthest we’ve been for a long time.
Now these boys have got a chance to write their own little chapter in that and we’ll be supporting them in it.
I don’t think last season’s success adds any more pressure on them, all it gives is inspiration and motivation.
- 1pm, Saturday 11 November
- Burton Albion FC
We’ve only done a few days with them so far, but they’re looking in a really good place and are excited about what the season can hold.
It’s still pretty early on in their international journey – some are getting calls-ups for the first time and some have been with us since the U15s, so it’s really good to get the group together and playing some games.
That’s always important in the U17 year, because you’re preparing for the finals of a tournament at the end of the season. The fact we’re hosting it this year and playing at the stadiums where the games will be held, it’ll be great to run through what it might look like playing in the stadiums at Chesterfield, Rotherham and Burton, as we’ve had great experiences there before.
We’ve got some really strong opposition too. Germany, Portugal and Russia are going to offer us a really good test, just as we will for them as well. It’s just a matter of continuing the progress and journey of the team and allowing them to get ready for the finals at the end of the year.
We know Portugal and Germany quite well. We play against them a lot through all the age groups and they’re two countries with clear identities and playing styles in the way they perform on the pitch.
Russia, we don’t play as much, but I think that’s what is exciting about these three games. It will be a different test. It’s really good that we’re playing teams from all different parts of Europe because when those finals come at the end of the year, you don’t know who you’re going to draw and it is going to be guaranteed that there’ll be teams from different parts of Europe. They are three strong games but three that we’ll be ready for, that’s for sure.
- 7pm, Tuesday 14 November
- Rotherham United FC
As for my role, well, within all England teams we’re trying to create the right culture at St. George’s Park and the right environment which is demanding, challenging and with high expectations because that’s what playing for England is all about, it’s an elite environment.
At the same time, we want the players to feel confident and we want them to play with belief. We want them to feel a belonging to the DNA of the England teams.
Every team we work with, the players are always very proud and passionate about representing their country and are desperate to get back to St. George’s Park to continue that.
Hopefully that will allow them to go and be who they are when they represent their country in the games.
Creating the right culture and environment is important, not just for this year group but we’re all working in a way now which is pretty similar and it’s a joined-up approach.
What they do this season will just be an add-on to what they did in the last event last season and hopefully once they finish the year, they’ll be ready to step up to the U18s as well.”
Tickets for all three games are on sale now and cost £3 for adults, £1.50 for concessions and students (with a valid NUS card). Disabled tickets are full price according to age category, with carer going free. Further details and ticketing links below.
England v Portugal - Click here to purchase tickets
England v Russia - Click here to purchase tickets
England v Germany - Click here to purchase tickets