Sears expects with England

Freddie Sears has been training hard in preparation for the final qualifying round of the European Under-19 Championship as he looks to fire the goals that will take England to July's finals.

The 18-year-old academy graduate is one of two West Ham United players in Brian Eastick's squad for the Elite round min-tournament in Belarus, with James Tomkins an established figure at the heart of the defence. In contrast to his more experienced 19-year-old club-mate, Sears has only made two substitute appearances for his country but has impressed in both and has been identified as a major talent by manager Brian Eastick.

The homegrown striker said: "I am really proud to play for my country and it is great to be involved. It will finish off a great season for me. We are going to Belarus with the aim of getting to the European Championships in July." To do that, the Young Lions need to overcome the hosts, Serbia and Poland to be one of eight nations competing in the final round in the Czech Republic. England will play Poland first in Borisov on Monday, before meeting Serbia two days later in the same venue. The qualifying campaign will end against Belarus in Minsk on Saturday 31 May.

Sears also thinks the U19s can help bring much needed cheer to the country this summer after the senior side missed out on a place at Euro 2008 in Switzerland and Austria. "We didn't make it to the Euro so the fans should get behind the U19s," he added. "Me and Tomka are going to be doing our best to get to the finals. Let's get the fans behind the U19s and help us out. We will do our best to represent the club."

The final tournament will take place between 14 and 26 July, and should England get there then fellow West Ham United players Jordan Spence, still only 17, and Junior Stanislas will also fancy their chances of earning a place in the final squad. Both have also figured for the U19s this season and will only have just missed out on this qualifying round.