England U19s face battle to bridge generation gap
England expects... what exactly in the summer of 2010? Disappointment in an overseas tournament perhaps. Fabio Capello certainly seems to thinks so as the England manager is not expected to attend the Under-19s' deciding European Championship group fixture this evening.
Indeed, should they overcome the hosts France and qualify for next weekend's final Capello will have to be informed of the result once more, as the match clashes with the charity golf event he is due to host in Spain, some 900 miles away from Normandy.
England might well expect a man paid £6m a year to have rather different priorities, but it is said Capello has already made up his mind about the pool of talent available to him in this age group. Everton's Jack Rodwell, the Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshire and Blackburn defender Phil Jones are all eligible for the tournament but have instead been earmarked for upgrade to Stuart Pearce's Under-21 side. Pearce has attended the previous fixtures, watching Noel Blake's side beat Austria 3-2 and lose to the Netherlands by the only goal of the match.
Victory today is likely to be enough to secure qualification as runner-up to the hosts as the Dutch lost 4-1 to France, requiring them to record a comprehensive final-game performance against Austria. A draw or even a loss could also be good enough for England, but only if Austria win.
Blake has selected the winger Matt Phillips of League Two Wycombe Wanderers among the line-up to face France. "We're not going to fear them in any way, we just want to go out and play our game," Phillips said. "The experience I'm getting here is a different type of experience to what I'd get with Wycombe, so it's good for me to prepare for the season like this."
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