TONY Larkin admits he is ‘gutted’ with the England blind football team’s showing at the IBSA European Championship in Italy.

It is the first major tournament for the England team since Larkin was axed as head coach in December after 17 years at the helm.

But defeats in England’s opening two matches in Loano ended their hopes of a semi-final place and put their World Championship qualification hopes in doubt. England also lost to Russia.

Royal National College (RNC) students Lee Brunton and Jon Heenan are in the squad with ex-student Dan English. Lewis Skyers is the team’s second-choice goalkeeper.

“It doesn’t look like England are going to qualify for the next World Championships,” said Tony, who works at RNC.

“The FA removed me and Jon Pugh because they wanted a different voice in the changing room and talked about taking the team to the next level.

“The draw was favourable for England and I thought they had a clear run to the semis.

“I am really gutted and angry because I have taken England to eight European Championships and we were runners-up six times.

“Dave Clarke has retired but we felt that the squad, even without Dave, was good enough to dominate Europe for the next 10 years.

“Since 1997, we always finished in the top three in Europe but they could now finish seventh or eighth.”

FA spokesman Matt Phillips says the FA are confident that new boss Graham Keeley and his staff can take the England team forward.

“The team is in transition with new management and the retirement of David Clarke,” he said.