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The FA

'A brilliant new stage'

U18s boss Steve Cooper says his squad will be in 'full tournament mode' for World Cup

Thursday 07 Sep 2017

Steve Cooper believes his squad will be ready for action when they kick-off the U17 World Cup in India next month.

The Young Lions made their final preparations for the competition on home soil this week, spending eight days at St. George’s Park and playing two games against Brazil and South Africa.

FIFA U17 World Cup
  • 6-28 October 2017
  • India
  • England v Chile: Sunday 8 October
  • Mexico v England: Wednesday 11 October
  • England v Iraq: Saturday 14 October

And whilst they were held to a draw by Brazil in Shrewsbury before losing against South Africa in Leek, the head coach isn’t reading too much into the scorelines.

"When you're working in development, you have to look a little bit further than the result,” he explained.

"We are preparing for a World Cup, so it was about trying some new things, some new partnerships on the pitch.

"We didn't play [against South Africa] at the level we normally play at, so the boys are naturally disappointed to lose that as they have set good expectations and standards for themselves.

"So of course we're disappointed with the performance and the result but there are lots of other things which were good learning experiences for us to take to the next step.

The FA ;

"Throughout the whole camp, we've stressed to the boys that international football is about the squad, particularly when you're going into tournament football.

"This camp was preparation for that, everybody got a start and it was a real opportunity for more players to get international experience under their belt.

"We've played a South American team and an African team and we've played those teams for a reason.

"We want our players to have the opportunity to play against these different types of opposition as we've got to be ready for these challenges.”

It will be a good learning experience for the future
- Steve Cooper

England qualified for the World Cup following their performance during last season’s Euro U17 Championship campaign.

Cooper’s side had an impressive season and won every game throughout qualifying and at the Euro Finals in Croatia, only to miss out on the title to Spain, following a penalty shoot-out in the final.

They will now face Chile, Iraq and Mexico in the group stage of the World Cup, being based in the football-mad city of Kolkata.

And Cooper, who will revert to coaching this season’s new U17s squad after the World Cup, is confident his Young Lions can make a big impression at the first FIFA competition to be held in India.

"We meet up again at the end of the month, when we have a prep camp in Mumbai,” he revealed.

"That will lead us nicely in our final preparations for the World Cup, before we fly into Kolkata four days before the first game when we'll be in full tournament mode.

"It will be a brilliant new stage for us and it's one that we hope to make the most of, enjoy and make sure that however it goes, it will be a good learning experience for the future.”

By Nicholas Veevers