Exclusive - Anton Set To Play In Front Of Record Crowd

HAMMERS defender Anton Ferdinand looks set to start for the England U-21's this evening for their crucial European Championship play-off match against France. This is the first of a two-legged play-off and is being played at White Hart Lane. It is expected the crowds tonight will beat the previous record for an U-21 match which was 33,000 at Derby's Pride Park.

Anton, speaking earlier today, acknowledged the significance of tonight's match and said he could not wait for kick-off:

"I am looking forward to the match very much, it is always an honour to put on the England shirt and represent your country and it is always special to play in front of a huge home crowd. This is an important match for us all, it is a huge tournament and we really want to be there for the finals next May so hopefully that hunger will spur us on tonight."

Tickets have been selling extremely well for this clash with 30,000 sold already, that is set to increase even further this evening and Anton is delighted that so many fans are turning out to show their support.

"It is a big game and it means a lot to us all that so many fans are turning out to support us. It adds that much more pressure with the numbers that are going to be there, but I am the kind of player that thrives on that sort of pressure and it helps me to play better."

Hammers midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker is a significant absentee for tonight's match as he sits this one out through injury, Anton knows he will be missed but is still confident the team will get the right result.

"Nigel will be greatly missed as he is our captain on and off the field in so many respects. However, we have a big and very capable squad and we are confident that the lads who step in to cover all the players that are out with injury have the ability to do a good job."

Anton will not have to wait very long till he runs out at White Hart Lane again with the Hammers facing Spurs away in their next Premiership fixture in just over a week.

"It is a nice ground to play at, I have only played there once before so it is strange suddenly playing there twice in such a short space of time. Hopefully on both occasions I will be a happy man come full-time!"

Tonight's match against France is live on Sky Sports 1, kick-off 7.30pm.