Walsh: Lessons learned

Liam Walsh says he has learned a lot over the last few days in Italy, and he hopes he can help the next England U18s squad to bounce back from defeat.

The Everton youngster partnered club-mate Callum Connolly in the Three Lions midfield on Wednesday afternoon, and he did well protecting his back four until the Azzurrini scored twice in two minutes to claim a 2-0 victory.

With a raucous home crowd backing the opposition and the searing heat taking its physical toll, Walsh admits it was tough going at times in the Stadio Giovanni Chiggiato – but he believes the lessons learned from the game will have a big impact on the squad going forward.

Italy 2-0 England

U18 International
Wednesday 24 September 2014
Stadio Giovanni Chiggiato, Caorle

“It was a hard game – especially because of the heat,” he explained. “The Italians are a good side, so that made it harder for us but we just needed to get a goal.

“The pitch was dead thick and dry, and they looked like they were used to playing on surfaces like that, whilst back home our pitches are a lot different.

“Adapting to the heat is an important thing to take away from this. Obviously, Italy were used to it, so the conditions were a lot easier for them.”

“But also the fans as well, it seemed every single person in there was right up for it backing them. That’s another lesson for us learn – keeping our minds right and to not let it affect us.

“As soon as we came out the tunnel, they were all in our faces and very vocal wanting their side to win. So we need to learn to block that out and concentrate on our game, which we did well for the majority.”

After a slow start to the encounter, Walsh and his team-mates began to take control of the game from twenty minutes in until the half-time break – and the 17-year-old admits it was nice to have an familiar face alongside him in the England engine room.

England U18s

Walsh got stuck into the Italians on Wednesday afternoon

“I got on the ball a lot, but their two strikers made it hard for me. Once we fell behind it became a lot more difficult as they dropped off and sat deeper, so it was a tough game,” he said.

“It was good having Callum [Connolly] alongside me, I know his game really well and I’m used to playing with him. I know he likes to get forward, so I stayed and tried to secure us at the back, so it was nice to play alongside my mate.”

With a double-header away in Poland up next for Dewsnip’s Young Lions in November, Walsh is looking to take the plus points from Wednesday and carry them forward as England look to return to winning ways immediately.

“We need to take the positives out of the match and take them on to our next game – but we obviously need to take our chances,” he explained.

“It’s been a brilliant experience with all the boys, and I hope I can do enough for it to happen again when we go to Poland.”