England Community Lions have named a strong 21-player squad that will now go forward to the Under 19 European Championships in Italy, this September.
Fifteen clubs are represented in the squad which includes six faces who represented the Lions U17s in Wales last year. Lions Head Coach Allan Coleman said, “It’s been a really tough process to be honest, there have been some talented young players out there, but I think we’ve done it the right way. We’ve probably taken that bit more time on this one than we have done in the past and hopefully, we’ll get the rewards at the end of it.
“What comes out of this process as well is some maturity. They will go back to their clubs and learn new attitudes towards training, new attitudes to how they work within a team environment because when you trial for England at international level, it just gives you more confidence as well and hopefully we help the Community clubs like they have helped to develop these players for us.
“The guys that have been unfortunate and missed out from the 31-player squad, it was really difficult because there was nothing in them. Sometimes it just goes down on what you think as a coach and a judgement call. That puts us under pressure because the talent is so close, and how good they all are.
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“After the last training session we thanked everyone for what they have done, and unfortunately the guys not named in this squad are on a reserve list, but every team that I’ve toured with, every team that I’ve coached on England level, there is always someone who pulls out. It always happens, unfortunately, especially with them playing all year, its another really difficult thing. But someone’s misfortune could turn into an opportunity.”
Speaking of the players that pulled on the England jersey last year, (Ryan Wood, Dylan Turner, Kieran Welburn, Scott Parnaby, Kieran Dean and Matthew Parkes) Coleman added, “Once you are in that process and people see you, and you are playing for your country, it puts you in good stead to play for your country on many occasions because you are in the public eye more than you would be playing for your community club. They have taken their chances and it’s paid off for them.
Looking ahead to the Euro challenge, Allan said, “Everyone wants to beat England, as you know. We’ll do our homework and make sure that we are better prepared than we were last time, but it all depends on what professional players play for other countries. As you know we select from our community base. It will be very interesting and I’m really looking forward to it. I think we have picked the best squad and we will see how we go!”