Alese helps England U18s make winning start at Slovakia Cup


West Ham United defender Ajibola Alese helped England's U18s make a winning start at the prestigious Slovakia Cup tournament.

The Dylan Tombides Award winner started and played the opening 74 minutes of the Young Lions' 1-0 Group A victory over Russia in Zlate Moravce on Monday.

Arsenal attacker Tyreece John-Jules scored the only goal of the game midway through the first half, volleying home from close range.

England dominated the game for long periods and Alese twice went close to doubling his country's lead in the second half, sending two decent headed chances over the crossbar.

Neil Dewsnip's squad take on Slovakia, who top the group after defeating Mexico 2-1 in their own opening match, on Tuesday in Ziar nad Hronom, before completing their Group A fixtures by facing the Mexicans in Zlate Moravce on Thursday 23 May, with the group winners qualifying for the final. Group B consists of Czech Republic, Ukraine, Croatia and Spain.

The final and placement matches will be held in four different locations on Friday 24 May.

Centre-back Alese became a full-time Academy of Football scholar in summer 2017, having already featured a number of times at U18 level while still a schoolboy.

The defender continued to progress, making his U23 debut in Premier League 2 in August 2017 and establishing himself as a dominant and inspirational figure in the side. He made 24 appearances for the Hammers at U18, U21 and U23 levels this past season, earning the award for the Academy of Football's outstanding individual at the recent Player Awards.

At international level, he has been capped by England at U16, U17 and U18 levels, appearing for the Young Lions at the 2018 UEFA European U17 Championship finals, and has now been given another opportunity to impress after being selected for the annual Slovakia Cup competition.