Tony Carr has spoken of his pride as James Tomkins and Freddie Sears prepare to help England's quest for glory at next week's European Under-19 Championship in the Czech Republic.
The duo's inclusion in the prestigious UEFA tournament for the continent's most talented teenagers is just reward for the progress they have made from the West Ham United academy through to the first team. "They are playing in a terrific tournament and they will only come back better players for it," Academy director Carr said. "This is only going to be good for their education and they will come back better players for it."
Central defender Tomkins, 19, and 18-year-old striker Sears have both been training with the Young Lions at the National Football Centre in Burton-on-Trent before flying out to the Czech Republic and look set to be involved in the opening fixture of the tournament on Monday afternoon. England will take on the host nation in Liberec - match to be shown live on Eurosport - before following that up with further Group B games against Italy and Greece on 17 and 20 July respectively.
The call-up means Tomkins and Sears will not be able to travel with West Ham United on the high-profile North American tour. Carr said they have mixed feelings about missing out on the trip but the benefits were there for all to see. "After representing the first team last season, they would have wanted to stay and be part of Alan Curbishley's plans for the early part of pre-season and have an opportunity to shine but you can't turn down representing your country."
Carr added that the experience would be particularly beneficial as Tomkins and Sears look to make an impact next season and in the future. "Club football and international football even at U19 level does present different problems. It tends to be more tactical and there tends to be more opportunities for individuals to shine and be matchwinners. It is different from the cut and thrust of club league football really and it will be terrific for their development."