Meet the shotstoppers

England v Sweden

Nordic U17 Tournament

5pm Thursday 31 July 2014
Mosevej Stadium, Denmark

And ahead of England’s final group game with Sweden on Thursday evening, sat down with the Young Lions’ goalkeepers union to discover more about the pair.

“My parents were really nervous for me when I was starting against Finland, but so proud,” said Huffer.

“It’s been really interesting. You need to keep the ball a lot more in international football, not try to rush the play and that’s what we’ve been working on all week – that’s the big difference I’ve noticed.”

Huffer produced two outstanding saves in the first half of the Finland game – not that he can remember. 

“I made one with my hand and my leg, but I can’t remember much about it,” he admitted. “It’s a blur to be honest but I’ll look forward to watching them back on the video.”

Ashby-Hammond was equally delighted to line up for his country for the first time, but having now made his debut, he is not one to rest on his laurels. “There’s a lot more pressure,” he said. “Once you get into it, and you are out there, you soon settle in and it’s like any other match.

“My dad is out here, and he was so proud when I played against Iceland and he knows it’s a good step for me. I’m not getting ahead of myself though, there’s still many steps ahead so I need to keep working and improving.”

Despite not knowing many of the other 16 players in Dan Micciche’s squad beforehand, the shot-stopping duo were both together in the national schoolboys team. They both attended coach Simon Smith’s goalkeeper camp too, a “perfect” preparation for England duty according to the pair.

Huffer said: “I’m happy to see Taye doing well. We have both started a game, which is good, and it helped that we knew each other before we came out.

“We played for the independent schools national side together, so we have been working with each other for a while.

“And Simon’s camp gives you the standards of where you need to be. It would be a shock if you came into this, where a lot more is expected of you, so it gives you a big taste of what is required here – it gives you that first taste of England.”

Simon Smith puts the goalkeepers through their paces in Denmark

Simon Smith puts the goalkeepers through their paces in Denmark

Ashby-Hammond added: “It definitely helps with the standard you need to be at. Simon is a really good coach, and he really helps me a lot.

“Me and Will have known each other a while. It’s really tough competition between us, but after the team is named then we get on with it and support each other. It’s a good relationship between us and we work well together.”

One man who has been left impressed by the duo is their coach Smith, who said: “I can’t remember too many trips that I’ve been on where I’ve had two ‘keepers who have never played for their country before.

“I have to say, what I’ve seen and what they have done so far has been really good.

“You have your technical and tactical bits, but the more I’m in it, I realise that a person’s personality plays a massive part. It’s nice because both of these two young lads have a great personality.

“The way they have dealt with representing their country, both on and off the field, and just playing their normal game, they have done fantastically well.”

Both Huffer and Ashby-Hammond will be vying once again for the number one jersey as England take on Sweden on Thursday afternoon, kick-off 5pm BST.

Follow @England on Twitter for updates from the Mosevej Stadium.