Blake primed for sold out England game

National boss: Noel Blake
National boss: Noel Blake
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ENGLAND Under 19s manager Noel Blake is relishing the prospect of being reunited with Chesterfield boss John Sheridan next month.

Blake is looking forward to renewing acquaintances with Sheridan when he brings his youngsters to the B2net Stadium stadium for a friendly with Germany on February 8.

Both played together at Leeds in 1988 and Blake has nothing but praise for the former Republic of Ireland international, who has led the Spireites to the top of the League Two table.

“John’s always been a proper football man and knows how the game should be played,” said Blake, who also represented Birmingham City and Portsmouth in his career. “He was a great player in the middle of the park and we’ve kept in touch over the years.

“I’ve been to see Chesterfield a couple of times and the club are certainly reaping the benefits of his experience this season.”

The international is sold out and a capacity crowd of more than 10,000 are expected to turn up for the clash, kick-off 7.30pm.

Blake added: “It’s a great new stadium and I’m sure our lads will enjoy playing there next month.”

England’s under-19s had a successful 2010, reaching the semi-finals of the European Championship in Normandy.

Nonetheless, Blake is contemplating freshening up his starting line-up.

“We’re constantly looking at players and there’s a real mix with the boys available to us,” said the 49-year-old. “You’ve got players who are playing first team or reserve football for their clubs and some are still in their respective youth teams.

“We had an U18 fixture against Poland in November and some of those lads caught the eye and will definitely be in the mix for the Germany game.”

Blake named his 18-man squad for the showdown yesterday, which includes talented youngsters Jonjo Shelvey, Josh McEachran, Benik Afobe, Jed Steer and Connor Wickham.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Luke Garbutt, Jack Robinson, George Taft, Conor Coady Tom Thorpe and Jordan Obita have all made the step-up from the U18 squad and will be aiming to make their mark.