Neil Dewsnip has praised the “first class” attitude of his England U18s squad as he aims to assist them in reaching the next level of their development.
The head coach met up with the squad for the first time on Sunday at their team hotel in Leigh in preparation for the double-header against Holland on Wednesday and Friday, the latter match taking place at Bury’s JD Stadium.
Although he says he knew he would be working with a “talented group”, Dewsnip admits he has been impressed with the standard shown by his youngsters in their short time with him.
England v Holland
3pm, Wednesday 3 September 2014
Leigh Sports Village
He said: “We’ve had a fantastic two days.
“Obviously I knew they were a talented group after what they achieved last year and me and the staff were really looking forward to working with them – and we haven’t been disappointed whatsoever.
“The tempo of the training was first class and they have really impressed me. If they can carry that over into the games I’ll be delighted.”
Despite having 15 members of the European U17 Championship-winning side included in his squad, the boss echoed the words of captain Ryan Ledson and said it’s time to move forward from that success and push on with their development.
“That was kind of the meat and drink of our first meeting,” he added. “We congratulated them on what they achieved, and I think that is only right, and everyone at The FA is really proud of what they did.
“But what Ryan said was absolutely right and we put that to bed the other night. Individually they have to improve and as a group. Very often, the two go hand in hand and that process is ongoing.
“I think this year it’s important that the group are challenged”
“I think this year it’s important that the group are challenged. It’s a non-competitive UEFA year, but that does not mean to say that the fixtures we put on for the players will not be highly-competitive.
“Holland will be a real good test of where they are at.”
Two good performances against the Dutch is obviously the target of the week according to Dewsnip, but he also hopes to maintain the “winning aura” within the squad and see the players with a smile on their face.
“It’s great for England to win at every age group, so we can develop an aura that leads up into the first-team – but winning isn’t the only thing.”
He continued: “Equally important is that they play in a manner that we want them to, and that they feel comfortable in our environment – which hopefully is a good and happy one, where they all have smiles on their faces as that helps them to develop as players.
“If we get that bit right, they’ll develop individually, as a group and they will continue going forward.”
Tickets are available for England v Holland on Friday at Bury FC. Prices are £3 adults and £1 concessions.