Blake’s last chance to assess Young Lions before vital Euro qualifiers as England Under-19s take on Turkey
While Roy Hodgson assesses the candidates for his World Cup squad one last time as England take on Denmark at Wembley, Under-19s boss Noel Blake will be doing something very similar.
With all-important Elite Round qualifiers coming up in May to decide whether the Young Lions make the European Championship finals in Hungary, Blake can run the rule over his tyros when they take on Turkey in Chester on Wednesday night.
Bearing this in mind, Blake has selected a mixture of seasoned youth internationals and debutants who are being offered a chance to prove their abilities ahead of the qualification triple-header against Montenegro, Scotland and Ukraine in May.
Who to choose? England Under-19s coach Noel Blake will take a good look at his squad ahead of all-important European Championship qualifiers when they take on Turkey in a friendly at Chester on Wednesday night
Close watch: Blake (second right) and Aidy Boothroyd (right) head up England’s coaching team as the Under-19s train at the Carden Hotel and Spa in Chester
March 5 Turkey (Chester FC) 7pm
EUROPEAN UNDER-19 CHAMPIONSHIP ELITE ROUND QUALIFIERS
May 24 Montenegro
May 26 Scotland
May 29 Ukraine
Venues in England but TBC
Among the names familiar to followers of youth football are Chelsea’s Lewis Baker, making waves in the inaugural season of the UEFA Youth League, Norwich’s Josh Murphy, who has made regular appearances in the first team this season, and captain Calum Chambers, who has made the grade in Southampton’s first team.
Indeed it was Chambers who smashed in the winner as England beat Turkey 1-0 in their last meeting at Telford almost exactly a year ago and he knows exactly what kind of challenge to expect.
‘It was a good game, a tight game and they were very competitive,’ he said of the opponents.
‘But if we play well and show what we’re capable of then we’ll be hoping to get a win.
‘They have some very good players. I remember last year they had two very good wingers who were very good on the ball.
‘And obviously they’re preparing for the Elite Round qualifiers also, so it will be a good test for us. But that’s what we’re hoping for – we want them to bring their best team so we can test ourselves fully.’
VIDEO Highlights of England’s match with Turkey last year
First team breakthrough: Calum Chambers, the England Under-19 captain, in action for Southampton’s first team against Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge last weekend
Match winner: Chambers (No 2) is congratulated by Max Clayton (No 10) after scoring the winner against Turkey in the last meeting of the sides last year
Blake knows that Turkey are the kind of competitive opponents he needs to properly assess the merits…