Daniel Kearns will be heading back to Northern Ireland next week to represent his country in a vital series of European U17 Championship qualifiers.

The 16-year-old midfielder has been named in his country's squad for the elite round Group 5 mini-tournament being hosted by the Northern Irish and also featuring Slovenia, Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland start against Scotland on Monday, take on Slovenia two days later and finish up against Wales on Saturday week. The winners will make it through to the eight-nation UEFA finals to be played in Turkey between 4-16 May 2008.

Hailing from Belfast, Kearns joined West Ham United last summer and has quickly established himself in the Under-18 side despite being one of the younger members of Tony Carr's squad. Citing Joe Cole as his favourite all-time Hammers player, Kearns has shown himself to be a creative provider and also has an eye for goal. That was demonstrated most notably in last month's 2-0 away win against Arsenal when he broke the deadlock with a fine shot after cutting in from the left flank.