City's England Under-21s 'keeper looking forward to match
AS ENGLAND Under-21s manager Stuart Pearce prepares his squad for Friday’s crucial Euro 2013 Play-off first leg against Serbia at Carrow Road, Canaries Player caught up with City ‘keeper Declan Rudd ahead of the big match.
The 21-year-old shot-stopper was called-up to the U-21s squad along with the likes of goalkeeper Jack Butland and fellow Canary Ryan Bennett as they face off against tough Serbian opposition in Friday’s 6pm kick-off.
Tickets for the match are just £10 for adults, and £5 for U-18s, over-65s, and students, and a proud Rudd is hoping to hear the same vocal support from the fans for the Young Lions as is afforded Chris Hughton’s side every other weekend at Carrow Road.
“It would be a great honour to play. Obviously we don’t know the team yet, and nobody knows who is going to be playing and who is not,” said Rudd.
“It’d be a great occasion for me if I could play, but we don’t know yet and we’ll have to see on Friday night.
“Obviously it will be a good crowd here supporting us and getting behind the team – they always are on a Saturday for the Norwich City team, so I’m expecting the same for the England lads as well.
“It’ll be a good atmosphere and all the lads are looking forward to it.
“It’s a massive thing, playing in the European Championships, and it doesn’t really get much bigger than that for our age group, so it’ll be a great occasion and a good possibility to be in a major tournament. All the lads are going to give their best to make sure we make it.
“It’s great with the U-21s - I’m playing with the best players in my age group in the country, and the coaches are great too.
“Training is sharp and you learn a lot from the other players and their experiences. It’s a great chance to be involved and I’ve got to enjoy every second of it.”
In the Young Lions’ way stand Serbia’s U-21s – a team with excellent pedigree at this level having reached the final of the European Under-21 Championships in 2004 and 2007.
The unbeaten Serbs sealed top-spot in their qualifying group just like Pearce’s young charges, however Rudd is more inclined to focus on the strengths of his own team than Friday night’s opponents.
He added: “I think as long as we stick to our game plan and play as well as we are able to then we’ve got a great chance.
“We’ve a good group of players here with a good team ethic, and we’re staying positive in the hope of getting a good result.
“We can see what’s at stake – if we win this two-legged play off then we’re in the European Championships in the summer, so there’s a lot on it, but it just fires the lads on more to do well.
“As long as we stick to what the gaffer tells us to do, stick to our game plan and play to our full potential we’ve got a great chance.
“Obviously it would be great to go over to their place with a lead, but we’ll give it our best and hopefully we’ll get a result.
“I think we’re just going to worry about our own game.”
England and major tournaments are synonymous with penalty-shootouts – something that Rudd was busy practising during a training session at Carrow Road on Thursday, and the youngster would even be willing to step up to the mark and take one himself.
“I’m confident to get up and take one,” said Rudd. “But my main job is keeping the ball out of the net, so if I can do that, that’s all that really matters.
“We practice penalties every day after training – everyone gets one penalty, although ‘keepers get more practice because we get to face more.
“It’s good to get down and work on penalties, and it usually does come down to penalties with England. I think we’re well prepared for it if it does come along and hopefully we can get through on penalties if we have to.”
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