‘There’s a lot at stake’ insists England C boss
England C boss Paul Fairclough believes there’s plenty at stake for his new-look side in tomorrow’s friendly against Bermuda at the National Sports Centre.
Fairclough will use the game as another chance to assess his options ahead of England C’s first International Challenge Trophy matches in September and November, having reached the semi-finals of last year’s competition.
Only two members of that squad have made the trip to Bermuda with Fairclough keen to see how his new bunch of players cope in a different environment and against an unfamiliar brand of football.
“This is a completely new squad and there are only two players who have played for the England C team before,” said Fairclough, the director of football at Barnet.
“It’s a very young team that gives young players that final rubber stamp to say ‘you’re a league player,’ and that’s when league clubs take them.
“There will be 14 new caps and we’ve picked players from as low as the Conference South to give a chance to boys lower down the football pyramid.
“Coming to Bermuda is going to be something new for these players and it will be another style of football for them to face.”
Tomorrow’s game will be England C’s penultimate match before the International Challenge Trophy (ICT) a European Under-23 tournament for semi-professional players.
And with places still up for grabs in his ICT squad, Fairclough insists there will be no complacency from his players.
“There’s a lot at stake for our boys tomorrow they know if they do well they’re going to be in with a chance of making the next squad for our final friendly before the International Challenge Trophy,” he said.
“This bunch of players have done really well in a short space of time. They’re intelligent, good learners and they have picked up what I want them to do.”
Despite not playing competitive football since the end of the regular Conference season in April, Fairclough expects his players to produce a strong performance against Bermuda.
“It’s a friendly match but you put 22 players on a football pitch there’s no such thing as a friendly,” said the 63-year-old.
“You will see plenty of passion and commitment from our players and I’m expecting a really competitive game.”
He added: “These lads are all non-league and are not full-time, and you have to remember the season in the UK switched off at the end of April.
“I’ve got an open mind about tomorrow but I’m a firm believer that if you give a good performance you will get a good outcome at the end of it.”
England C’s 16-man squad were joined by six National Academy players (Jaylon Bather, Tre Ming, Terrence Webb, Dominique Williams, Reiko Trott and Casey Castle) in today’s training session at the North Field.
Fairclough said he had been impressed with the attitude of the young Bermudians and hoped they had been inspired by their experience.
“I always like to get youngsters involved in our sessions and whenever we train at a UK club I like to get their scholars involved,” he said.
“I have to thank Paul Scope for organising the Bermuda boys and getting them down here. I’ve known Paul for thirty, maybe forty years, he’s been very solid for me.
“I hope the Bermuda lads were proud to wear the England kit and maybe they will be wearing the Bermuda kit in a few seasons’ time.”
England C squad: Preston Edwards (Ebbsfleet United), Mitchell Walker (Dover Athletic), Daniel Bradley (Alfreton Town), Antoni Sarcevic (Chester), James Norwood (Forest Green Rovers), Christopher Stokes (Forest Green Rovers), Marlon Jackson (Hereford United), Sam Clucas (Hereford United), John Hunt (Wrexham), Michael Demetriou (Kidderminster Harriers), Andrew Cook (Grimsby Town), Andre Gray (Luton Town), Ryan Jackson (Macclesfield Town), Harry Beautyman (Sutton United), Anthony Acheampong (Welling United), Fraser Franks (Welling United).