England's Michael Keane discusses Nations League prospects ahead of trip to Portugal

Ahead of a big week for the Three Lions in the UEFA Nations League, we sat down with defender Michael Keane to catch up on how preparations are going...

Sunday 02 Jun 2019
Michael Keane warms-up for training at St. George's Park as England prepare for the Nations League

How’s it been so far? You’re a couple of weeks in now and the Nations League Finals are very close…

It’s been really good to get back together again. The first group of us were here after having a week off at the end of the season.

The training was really hard and intense to start with, as the aim in the first week was to top our fitness levels back up. You don’t lose a lot of fitness after being off for a week, so we were pretty sharp fairly quickly and now we’ve got a bit more into the tactical things and working on that.”

It’s the first ever Nations League Finals, so it’s a chance to make history. How is everyone feeling ahead of this and the chance of reaching a Final and getting silverware?

There’s massive excitement. It’s the first time the Nations League Finals is happening and it’d be great to be the first team to win that.

It’d be the first men’s trophy that we’ve won since 1966 so it’s a massive opportunity for us and one that we’re looking forward to.

We know it’s going to be tough but we’ve got the belief in ourselves and everyone else in the team that we’re good enough to win it.

Keane tracks Raheem Sterling during training at St. George's Park

We play the Netherlands in the semi-final, a team who are enjoying a bit of a resurgence…

The Dutch have stepped up a few gears from the last couple of years, so we know they have some top players and it’s going to be tough. We’ll prepare for it as best we can, but I think every team at this level, especially those who have got to the Nations League Finals, are going to be quality.

We just need to have to look around our own changing room and at the talent and experience that we have in there. I think if we focus on ourselves, that’s the main thing, but we can’t under-estimate anyone.

You played a game against the U21s in training last week, how was that?

It was good. We’ve had a lot of training so it was good to get out on the open, full-sized pitch, get used to the big spaces again and get used to the air in your lungs. It worked well, the U21s are looking good and hopefully they can do well again.

It’s great for them to play against the senior team. I wouldn’t think they’d get opposition as good as that out in Italy, so if they can do well against us, or even if they didn’t, they can learn a lot from it.

Keane has been with the Three Lions squad for two separate training camps in May

You were in the same position as them four years ago, going into the 2015 U21 EURO Finals in Czech Republic, so you could certainly relate to how they’re feeling…

Yes. It’s a great tournament too, so hopefully they can go out and win it because they’re a very talented team.

Whatever happens, it’ll stand them in good stead and there’s a lot of players in the seniors now who’ve been through the U21s and know what it’s like.

They’ve still got a few more weeks to prepare, so we wish them all the best and I believe they have a strong chance this year.

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By Nicholas Veevers