Brooking backs Young Lions

Sir Trevor Brooking was on-hand to witness an England Under-21 side featuring two West Ham United players sweep aside Azerbaijan 7-0.

Stuart Pearce's team were captained by Mark Noble, while defender James Tomkins made his first appearance at U21 level. The match was the Young Lions' final warm-up game before the UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Sweden, which gets under way next Monday.

Sir Trevor, who was in Milton Keynes in his capacity as director of football development with the FA, was delighted to see the Academy graduates flourish under the floodlights at stadium:mk.

"I think Nobes did well, he's obviously very experienced and he got a goal. I thought James also did very well on his first game," he said.

Tomkins looked assured in central defence alongside Chelsea's Michael Mancienne, winning headers and using his customary composure on the ball to good effect.

Tomkins' U21 debut will have been the icing on the cake of a fine year for the 20-year-old that saw him start the Hammers' final 13 games of the season, and Sir Trevor, who made 529 appearances for the club between 1967 and 1984, believes that run in the team played a big part in his selection for the finals' squad.

"We know he's benefitted from the last couple of months and now he can knock on the door to get in the starting line up. Jame and Mancienne played very well together."

Sir Trevor knows just what it takes to make the step up to international football - he won 47 caps for the England senior side, scoring five goals - and having kept a close eye on their development he predicts big things for Noble and Tomkins.

"It bodes well for the future. Stuart obviously likes them both and whatever happens now it should be good. Nobes will be out of the age group after the tournament but James will be in the next cycle as well now."