All not OK with UK
England teenagers look to make a mark at next week’s FIFA under-17 World Cup despite fatigue and lack of match practice
ENGLAND football’s club culture has more often than not got the better of the international team. Players are nurtured in elite academies of the UK and then graduate further to the senior men’s team that feature in the Premier League. This is perfect for a developmental player, but it is the Three Lions side that bears the brunt of this scenario.
Gomes, England’s wonder kid
The England U-17 team arrived in the city yesterday sans wonder kid Angel Gomes and Jadon Sancho, who made a reported £10 million move to Dortmund from Manchester City this year.
Gomes, 17, who honed his skills at Manchester United’s youth academy, is in red-hot form. His free-kick screamer turned out to be the decisive goal as the young Red Devils secured a 2-1 win over CSKA Moscow in the UEFA Youth League on Wednesday. Due to his club commitments, Gomes, who is ex-Man United winger Nani’s cousin, was unable to catch the flight to Mumbai from London. He will join his team today along with Sancho.
In no good position
According to sources in the England U-17 team, Dortmund too were reluctant to release Sancho citing fitness issues, but finally gave in to England’s plea. Such is the plight of the England team management!
According to a team official, yesterday’s training session was the first for the Young Lions after their two warm-up games against Brazil (0-0 on September 1) and South Africa (2-1 SA on September 4).
“It will be tough for the coach, but this is the situation we’re facing for a long time and there’s not much we can do about it,” the official told mid-day. For the record, England have only qualified for the under-17 World Cup on three occasions prior to this year’s edition — in 2007, 2011 and 2015. They made it to the mega event in India by virtue of being runners up in the 2017 UEFA European U-17 Championship.
At the Mumbai Football Arena in Andheri yesterday, the England team had their first practice session, but it was a low-key affair with fatigue hitting most players due to a long flight. The team started off with stretching exercises and jogged for around 15 minutes. Then with training mannequins placed at strategic positions, the players sweated it out, passing the ball to each other. The light session lasted for just an hour and a half.
Massive support staff
England have arrived with an astonishing 16-member support staff that includes their own chefs, team of doctors, physios, security officers and sports scientists.
The talent in abundance and the odds of playing as a team stacked highly against them, England will play their first training match against New Zealand tomorrow. Can they overcome this hurdle?
England U-17 players train at the Mumbai Football Arena, Andheri yesterday. The English boys will play a warm-up tie against NZ tomorrow.