Oxford eyes World Cup spot

England U17s captain Reece Oxford wants to lead his country to victory in their FIFA World Cup Play-Off match on Tuesday
Captain Reece Oxford says England cannot afford to lick their wounds with a place at the FIFA U-17 World Cup finals at stake on Tuesday.

The Young Lions were knocked out of the UEFA European U-17 Championship finals at the quarter-final stage by Russia, and now face a one-off clash with Spain to reach the World Cup in Chile.

The West Ham United centre-back felt England were hugely unfortunate to lose to the Russians, having missed a penalty and hit the woodwork on to occasions.

“We just couldn’t finish against Russia,” said the 16-year-old. “When we missed the penalty and then hit the post with the rebound, and then when we hit the crossbar in the second half, you do start to think that it’s going to be one of those games.

“But we can’t dwell on it. We’ve got a massive game against Spain coming up. I’ve got to get all the lads lifted as we still have the chance to go to the World Cup.

“It would be great if we can achieve that. You can really make a name for yourself at a World Cup. We want to get there to show how good we are and what we are capable of.”

Oxford, who has led England at U16 and U17 levels, has every confidence that his young teammates can raise themselves to book their place in Chile in October.

“It’s going to be a game but it shouldn’t be hard to raise ourselves for it – it’s a World Cup and we know that. We may never get the chance to play in one again and we all want that experience.

“I’ve never been to South America too, and I don’t think any of the others have, so we’d be over the moon if we can get the job done.

“We’ll be treating it like a cup final and giving it 100 per cent – we are desperate to qualify.”

*Tuesday’s FIFA Under-17s World Cup Play-off match will kick-off at 2pm UK time in Sliven, Bulgaria. You can follow updates on Twitter @whufc_official.