(Photo: David Loveday)
By Jon Couch
EXPERIENCED England C campaigner Jake Gallagher says this Three Lions squad have never been more prepared for a game ahead of tomorrow’s International Challenge Trophy Final in Slovakia.
The Aldershot Town ace is set to win his 10th England C cap and is largely expected to captain the side at the Ziar nad Hronom stadium as Paul Fairclough’s men look to exact a slice of revenge on their hosts in front of a capacity 2,200 crowd.
Twice Gallagher has fronted a Three Lions side against the Slovakians and twice they have been beaten narrowly, the most recent of which in a 4-3 thriller at Sutton United’s Gander Green Lane two years ago.
Now, the combative midfielder is looking to set the record straight and reckons this current squad are perfectly primed to get the job done.
“They are very well organised, they’ve obviously played together a lot,” Gallagher told The NLP. “But, Paul [Fairclough] and [assistant] Mick [Payne] do a fantastic job of bringing us close together with team bonding sessions etc, and you can really see that in training.
“They do just about the right amount with us on the training pitch, it has been intense, short and sharp to prepare us right for the game. We are the best prepared for a game since I’ve been involved with England C, we are more than ready.
“In both previous games against them we deserved better I think, so hopefully it’s our turn and we can bring the cup home.”
Gallagher and the rest of Fairclough’s 16-man squad trained at the impressive second-tier Ziar nad Hronom stadium for the first time this afternoon, watched by over 100 local children, who came to greet the team before getting photos and autographs from the players afterwards.
It’s an area of England C trips abroad that many supporters back home don’t see, and Gallagher, for one, is delighted that he and his team-mates can make a difference to the communities they visit.
“Every trip I’ve been on with England C we’ve always involved the community and local children,” he added. “We let people come in to watch us train, get involved and we’ve even had local teams come and train with us at times.
“England C is all about that and, as players, we are more than happy to spend time with the children, have photos taken and sign autographs. It’s good for us, as people, to get involved with other communities and their lives, and it’s good for them to have an insight into what we do as well.
“For some kids, they’ll remember seeing professional players from England for a long time so why not? A little high five or saying hello often means the world to them.”