For the sixth time in eight years, John Peacock has managed England to the UEFA European Under-17 Championship finals and with several survivors from the squad that fell in the group stage in Germany last year, they are looking to take the title for the first time. The only team to win all six of their qualifiers – scoring 22 goals and conceding just twice – Peacock knows he has a good squad and spoke to UEFA.com as they prepared for Group B against the Czech Republic, Greece and Turkey.
UEFA.com: What do you think of your group?
John Peacock: We knew we had to get to the finals. It was important for this group that they were challenged this year and I think we will be challenged. I've not seen Greece or the Czech Republic this year; Turkey we played once and that was the only defeat we've had in two years. So it will be a tough group and we are all looking forward to it.
UEFA.com: How strong are this season's squad?
Peacock: It's a good group of players. There is a lot of potential there but that's all there is at the moment. We have to continue to keep working hard as a group. If we keep doing what we can do we will be there or thereabouts by the end of the tournament, but there are good teams against us that are going to try and stop us playing. Overall I'm delighted with the group I have and I look forward to working with them in the finals.
UEFA.com: Results have certainly been good, winning all your qualifiers and the Algarve Tournament in the spring...
Peacock: France and Portugal were in the Algarve along with Ukraine and we won that tournament. All very close games again but the team showed some resilience; they are good at keeping clean sheets and we've got people that can score goals.
If it all comes together, fantastic, but we are dealing with players 17 years of age and you have to expect the unexpected sometimes.
UEFA.com: Does it help to have several players available who took part in last year's finals?
Peacock: I think it can. We haven't had the numbers like last year; we usually have one or two that played a year up but last year we had four, and if you include Josh McEachran, who played in the [2008/09] elite round in Hungary, it includes five. I think the experience they had last year can only help us going into the finals but we have a good group of players; nobody's certain of starting place at the moment and even the lads that were with me last year, they found in the elite round they couldn't necessarily break into the first XI to start the games. But with due respect I'm not too disappointed about that because it shows it's a strong squad.
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