Spence success hailed by Carr

Jordan Spence completed a memorable first week in the England Under-19 set-up last night, much to the delight of Tony Carr.

The promising West Ham United defender played the full 90 minutes as mini-tournament hosts England won 3-1 against Belgium in Barnsley to finish off their qualifying group for the 2008 European Under-19 Championship in style. A 6-0 win against Romania on Sunday, that saw Spence come off the bench, had already confirmed the Young Lions' place in next spring's Elite round.

Spence's participation was also a very proud moment for West Ham United and one in which Carr, director of the youth academy, hoped would be the first of many. He said: "We are very proud of Jordan. It was great to see him make his first start for the U19s but it was well deserved as he did really well against Romania coming on as substitute in that match and contributing in whatever way he could to the victories.

"It's a big step up from the U17s to U19s, but Jordan is a bright player who, when given the chance, will make the most of it. I think with the team doing so well in the qualifiers, the U19s coaches had the opportunity to blood in a few new faces in the squad, one of them being Jordan and this is when the young players want to impress. I think Jordan did just that."

England had already won 5-1 against Iceland last Friday, meaning they conceded just two goals in their three group games. However, Spence could do little about the goal against last night as Belgium attacker Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe scored from the halfway line with an opportunistic effort. Spence, who captained England to the quarter-finals of the U-17 World Cup last month, is still only 17 but will hope to continue at U19 level as England target a place in next July's finals in the Czech Republic.

Carr said Spence would now come back with another level of experience under his belt and will look to go on from there. "He will no doubt drop back down to the U17s, as that is his age group, but if there are places up for grabs in the U19s in future games, then he has done himself no harm at all.

"It is all forward steps for Jordan and good for West Ham, as all this experience will benefit not only his own game, but the rest of the team here as we strive to get good results week in week out."