While summer is generally considered to be a relaxing time, with people jetting off on holiday to all four corners of the globe, England U-20 coach Brian Eastick has had one of the most hectic periods of his life. He has been based away from home for 90 per cent of the time since the domestic season finished, helping mastermind his country's youth teams to two successive finals.
Eastick assisted Stuart Pearce and Steve Wigley as England reached the final of the UEFA U-21 European Championship, and now the likeable man from the Midlands has led one of his own teams, the U-19s, to the final of the U-19 European Championship in Ukraine, where they will face the hosts on Sunday. FIFA.com caught up with him at the team hotel, just hours after their extra-time victory over France in Thursday's semi-final.
"We have a young squad out here, including six Under-18 players, so it is a terrific experience for them," he said. "They're growing in stature and confidence by the day. They were extremely rusty in the first game against Switzerland, and slowly but surely they've improved as they've gone along. There's one more hurdle to go, which will be tough particularly in front of their own fans, but if we play at our best, we have a chance of doing it."
However, the next stop for Eastick represents what could be his toughest assignment: the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt. Due to his work with the U-21 and U-19 squads, he readily admits that he "hasn't had the chance to think about it much", yet the recent, relevant experience of international tournament football will surely be a boon come September.
The main question concerning the England coach at present is: 'Who can I bring?' With a little over six weeks to go before the tournament, it is probably a question being posed by many of the coaches, although Eastick's job has been made more difficult than most due to the fact that the English season has already begun and that Egypt 2009 falls during an international window.
"It's difficult to say whether the players who have been playing so well here [in Ukraine] will come to Egypt, because at the same time as the World Cup, there is a U-19 qualifying tournament in Slovenia and an U-21 fixture, so we might not have them," he continued.
"It's a well documented fact that the tournament is not part of the international calendar, so the clubs don't have to release the players. At the moment, I can't say who is going to be in the squad, as we're relying on the goodwill of the clubs. I would envisage that I will be taking one or two younger players as the experience would obviously keep them in good stead for the future."
The first chance that Eastick has to get his squad together comes on Tuesday 11 August, when England's U-20 side take on Montenegro at The Hawthorns, the home of West Bromwich Albion, and he is hoping that the players who get the chance to impress will grab it with both hands.
"We felt that Montenegro would be a decent warm-up game for us and we'll probably be selecting those who we feel have a good chance of being with us in Egypt. However, some may not be allowed to go, but it's all about giving players the opportunity. Who knows, someone who plays for us in Egypt, who may not have been given a chance in normal circumstances, might turn out to be a star of the future."
But now, somewhat understandably, Eastick's thoughts must turn to Sunday's final with Ukraine and as he concluded the interview, he left FIFA.com with the following thought. "I've been a runner-up this summer and now I want to be a winner. Our ladies won the U-19 European tournament, so we'd better do the same!"
Given the country's success in youth tournaments this summer, could they make their third final in a row in Egypt? The odds may be stacked against them, but one can never write England off.