Young Lions still roaring

Jordan Spence may be in action again tonight as already-qualified England conclude their round-robin qualifying group for the 2009 European Under-19 Championship.

The 18-year-old central defender skippered England to 3-0 and 3-1 wins against Albania and hosts Northern Ireland last week in their mini-tournament to ensure progress to the Elite round next spring before the final game against Serbia. Tonight's opponents in Newry are also through with maximum points from their opening two fixtures so the final contest is simply about who finishes first in the section.

Spence's success follows on from Mark Noble's delight in helping the Under-21s to a 3-2 win against Wales last Friday. That gave the Young Lions the edge in their European U21 Championship play-off with the second leg on Tuesday at Villa Park. At Under-16 level, Robert Hall has again been named in the Victory Shield squad after playing his part earlier this month in the 6-0 victory against Northern Ireland. Hall will hope to figure when England go to Llanelli to face Wales on 31 October.

Naturally, academy director Tony Carr is thrilled for Spence - who has represented England at every age level. "They obviously like him in the England set-up as he has come all the way through. It is great that they have qualified. We have got a good spread of academy products in the international picture with Mark Noble leading the way with the Under-21s, while we also have Jack Collison involved with Wales."

On the 14-year-old striker Hall, Carr was pleased to see the young forward make his mark at U16 level and then get another chance to impress. He sees only positives for the future. "Robert is a good prospect and hopefully he will continue to improve. He will keep his feet on the ground. I am sure that will be the case because he is a good lad with a good family behind him. Hopefully he is one for the future for us."