Junior makes U21 bow

Junior Stanislas got his first taste of international football at Under-21 level when he played for England in an impressive 0-0 draw in the Netherlands.

Club team-mate James Tomkins played the full 90 minutes while Freddie Sears, on a season-long loan at Crystal Palace, was handed seven minutes off the bench as a replacement for Stanislas to earn his first experience of Under-21 football.

All three homegrown Hammers had previously played together within the U20 set-up while Tomkins was also part of the Young Lions squad that reached the final of the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Championship earlier this summer. Mark Noble had captained that side but is now too old for that level.

At the Euroborg in Groningen on Wednesday night, Stanislas nearly helped break the deadlock within a minute of the start of the second half when his return pass to captain Micah Richards allowed the defender to test Tim Krul with a powerful drive. Ten minutes later, the attack-minded No7 went close to grabbing the opening goal for himself when his 25-yard free-kick tested Krul once more.

Former Hammers defender Stuart Pearce had named a strong starting XI for the game with the 19-year-old Stanislas joining Everton's James Vaughan and Aston Villa new boy Fabian Delph as the three players who were not part of the squad that reached the UEFA final in Sweden just over a month ago.

The friendly result will act as a springboard for Pearce's youngsters as they begin their qualification for the 2011 Euro with games against FYR Macedonia and Greece next month.