SUN­DAYS NO FUNDAY FOR FAIR­CLOUGH

The Non-League Football Paper - - NEWS - By Jon Couch

SUN­DAY morn­ings are gen­er­ally the most re­lax­ing time of the week for a club man­ager. Whether it con­sists of pre­cious fam­ily time or with their feet up and a copy of The NLP, foot­ball mat­ters, for once, take a back burner. But for Eng­land C boss Paul Fair­clough on an in­ter­na­tional week, it’s prob­a­bly just as stress­ful as life in the dugout! “It’s that feeling of sit­ting by the phone, hold­ing my breath, and wait­ing to hear of any in­juries that any of the Eng­land C squad may have picked up on the Satur­day af­ter­noon,” said the Three Lions head coach pre­par­ing his troops for the In­ter­na­tional Chal­lenge Tro­phy Fi­nal against Slo­vakia on Wed­nes­day. “We have been known to have lost seven or eight play­ers in one sin­gle evening be­fore, it’s a real prob­lem. Once I’ve got my squad to­gether I pretty much know my start­ing eleven, but you can’t re­ally put all your eggs in one bas­ket un­til you know they are all fit and ready.” Nat­u­rally, Fair­clough will have been sit­ting anx­iously by the phone again last night with all but two of his 16-man squad for Slo­vakia in ei­ther FA Cup or league ac­tion this week­end. In­deed, the Eng­land chief has al­ready had to re-think his plans once this week af­ter Wok­ing cen­tre-back Josh Staunton was forced to pull out of the squad through in­jury, re­placed by Brom­ley’s Jack Hol­land, who played in the last en­counter against Slo­vakia in June 2016 when the Three Lions were edged out 4-3 in a thriller at Sut­ton’s Gan­der Green Lane. Of Fair­clough’s squad, only Da­gen­ham & Red­bridge pair Fe­jiri Oken­abirhie and Mor­gan Fer­rier can check into the team ho­tel later to­day fresh from an in­ac­tive week, while Maiden­head’s Sam Bar­ratt, Wok­ing’s Joe Ward and Sut­ton’s Louis John will join up straight af­ter their FA Cup games this af­ter­noon. Un­like Fair­clough’s fledglings – with no fewer than six mak­ing their in­ter­na­tional de­buts – Slo­vakia’s Un­der 21 set-up have largely played to­gether for many years and are des­per­ate to re­tain the Tro­phy they won two years ago. But while Fair­clough ac­cepts that con­sis­tency does give the hosts an ad­van­tage, he also be­lieves his un­known quan­ti­ties are more than ca­pa­ble of spring­ing a sur­prise at the Mest­sky Sta­dium. “We’ve done as much re­search as we pos­si­bly can, we know their team and we’ve watched plenty of videos, they’re a good side,” he added. “They are the hold­ers and have played to­gether from 17s through to the 21s so know each other’s game. But, on the flip side, they won’t know any­thing about us. “The beauty about this squad is that we are never the same twice, just a group of young, hun­gry and ta­lented play­ers who know what is ex­pected as an elite group. “I like to think we can pre­pare the play­ers the best we can in the short time we have to give them a chance and if they per­form the way I know they can then they cer­tainly have that.”

SQUAD: Jake Gal­lagher, Ch­eye Alexan­der (both Alder­shot Town), Daniel Maguire (Blyth Spartans), Grant Smith (Bore­ham Wood), Josh Rees, Jack Hol­land (both Brom­ley), Fe­jiri Oken­abirhie, Mor­gan Fer­rier (both Da­gen­ham), Jack Pow­ell (Ebb­s­fleet), Ryan Croas­dale, Bran­don Hall (both Kid­der­min­ster), Sam Bar­ratt (Maiden­head), Alex Wyn­ter (Maid­stone), Louis John (Sut­ton), Joe Ward (Wok­ing), David Fer­gu­son (York City).

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