All (footballing) thoughts in Walsall are on Tuesday night’s game at the Banks’s in which the Saddlers will take a 2-0 lead over Preston North End into the second leg of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Northern Area Final. The prize for the aggregate winners is a visit to Wembley for the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final.
If the Saddlers do it; we will end the longest wait in English professional football: only four teams in the four English professional leagues have never been to Wembley. Of those, with a 127-years history – the Saddlers have waited the longest.
So it is somewhat appropriate that while Walsall are dreaming of playing at the home of English football; England are preparing to play at Walsall.
England’s U18s will return to the Banks’s Stadium on Saturday 28 March to take on Switzerland; with a 5.30pm kick-off. With tickets priced at just £3 for adults and £1.50 for concessions; this is a very cheap opportunity to sample the Saddlers’ award-winning hospitality while watching the future stars of English football.
The squad won’t be named until nearer the time; but thefa.com report that it could include “a number of last season’s European U17 Championship winners such as England’s youth player of the year, Chelsea’s Dominic Solanke and Everton’s Ryan Ledson.”
“We are really fortunate and have an abundance of players in this age group,” U18 head coach Neil Dewsnip told thefa.com. “We have counted up six or seven that weren’t with us [in the side’s last matches in Poland], who you could argue would be in a starting eleven, so we are really lucky. That’s very healthy, not only for England but the boys themselves. If they take anything for granted, then they won’t be in the next squad.”
He added: “We have Switzerland lined up for the next international break, which will provide another challenge for the group.
“It’s an important time for the squad, they need to remain focussed and keep improving.”
Tickets go on sale from Monday and will be available online; by phone: 01922 – 651414 or 651414; or in person from the Banks’s Stadium ticket office.