England’s Young Lions facing severe examinations as they bid for Rotherham final

In charge: England Under-17 coach Steve Cooper.
In charge: England Under-17 coach Steve Cooper.
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England Under-17s coach Steve Cooper believes his players have already passed numerous tests with flying colours – but their toughest exam is yet to come.

Three of the squad are revising for their GCSEs while the others are still studying college courses as they attempt to reach the Euro 2018 final.

The Young Lions face Holland in tonight’s semi-final at Chesterfield following Sunday’s 2-0 win over Norway.

Manchester City’s Tommy Doyle, Chelsea’s Tino Anjorin and Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka – and three players on standby – are preparing for their GCSEs.

Cooper has praised the way they have handled the pressure of a major home tournament and their studies.

He said: “It’s a unique situation and the players are living the dream but they’re doing GCSEs at the same time.

“It’s a stressful time and it’s really important we have the right support around the players.

“What we have worked hard on is making sure it is possible to do an exam and be really competitive.

“I don’t think one has to suffer if we get it right.

“We have two full-time teachers and an education suite at St George’s Park so they’ve been spending the mornings there. We want the players to do well in the exams, too.

“Even the scholars have to do college at clubs so we pick that up for them and they do the same amount of hours.

“It’s a good example of how we’ve worked hard in putting the best schedule together possible so the games can run smoothly.

“This is where it really ramps up and you have to stay motivated, but the games just get bigger.”

The winners will play Italy or Belgium – New York Stadium hosting tonight’s tie between the pair – in Rotherham on Sunday as Cooper aims for his second major international title in seven months after winning 
the Under-17s World Cup last year.

He is close to European glory with a new squad but played down his role in the set-up’s continued success.

“It’s about the players. It’s a different set of players and our ultimate aim is to develop them for the senior national side,” he said.

“Every team is unique and it’s all about the players and so far it has gone well.”