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

Mid Day - - SPORT - NOEL D’SOUZA noel.dsouza@mid-day.com For the lat­est sports news, log on to www.mid-day.com

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?

PIC/NOEL D’SOUZA

Eng­land U-17 play­ers train at the Mum­bai Football Arena, And­heri yes­ter­day. The English boys will play a warm-up tie against NZ to­mor­row.

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