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‘My players are fearless’ – England C boss Fairclough ahead of Slovakia clash

(Photo: David Loveday)

By Jon Couch

ENGLAND C boss Paul Fairclough is confident he has the squad to bring home the International Challenge Trophy despite being forced to make a number of last-minute changes for the trip to Slovakia.

The Three Lions chief has brought in three new faces to his 16-man squad, taking the potential number of new caps for the clash in Zilina to 13.

Bromley centre-back Jack Holland – a late replacement for Woking defender Josh Staunton – was also forced to pull out injured so Fairclough has turned to his Ravens’ team-mate Dan Johnson.

There was also a double dilemma in the striking department with Maidstone’s Joe Pigott supposed to be filling in for Blyth Spartans front man Dan Maguire, only to withdraw late on, handing Solihull Moors livewire Oladapo Afolayan a first call-up.

And there was still time for one final change at right-back with Aldershot Town’s Cheye Alexander forced to pull out after breaking his toe in the FA Cup on Saturday, replaced by Blyth full-back Andrew Cartwright.

The Three Lions trained for the first time deep in the Slovakian mountains this afternoon (Monday) and although boss Fairclough is respectful of the ICT holders who the Three Lions face on Wednesday afternoon, he is delighted with the squad he has at his disposal, insisting his rookies will play without fear.

“We’ve picked a squad that we believe can do a job for us and I’m really pleased with the group of players we have got.

“I’m not concerned about inexperience as England C players are fearless, they’ve never had a problem in that department.

“We’re under no illusions, they are a good side and have played five matches in the last two months, using the same 18 players. But while we know a lot about them, they will know nothing about us.

“Of course we have to have a plan, but our players will be allowed to express themselves. No-one will leave anything on the pitch, that’s for sure.”

SQUAD: Goalkeepers: Brandon Hall (Kidderminster), Grant Smith (Boreham Wood). Defenders: Andrew Cartwright (Blyth Spartans, Dan Johnson (Bromley), Alex Wynter (Maidstone), Louis John (Sutton United), David Ferguson (York City). Midfielders: Ryan Croasdale (Kidderminster), Jake Gallagher (Aldershot Town), Josh Rees (Bromley), Jack Powell (Ebbsfleet United), Sam Barratt (Maidenhead United), Joe Ward (Woking), Fejiri Okenabirhie (Dagenham & Redbridge), Forwards: Oladapo Afolayan (Solihull Moors), Morgan Ferrier (Dagenham & Redbridge).

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