Pearce hails 'outstanding' Tomka

Stuart Pearce would have no hesitation in throwing James Tomkins into his starting eleven at this summer's UEFA European Under-21 Championship.

The West Ham United defender put in a strong showing on his debut for Pearce's side in the 7-0 friendly victory over Azerbaijan at stadium:mk

Tomkins was a calm and assured presence at the heart of England's defence, while he also rattled the woodwork with a powerful header after just 45 seconds at the attacking end of the pitch.

Former Hammer Pearce, who has visited Chadwell Heath to check on the likes of Tomkins, Mark Noble, Junior Stanislas, Freddie Sears and Jordan Spence, said the 20-year-old centre-back had thoroughly impressed him on his U21 bow.

"Tomkins, for his first cap, was outstanding I thought," said Pearce. "Right across the group, not just the West Ham players, there were players without a great deal of experience - the likes of Arsenal's Kieran Gibbs and Everton's Jack Rodwell, the next generation if you like - who did very well for us."

Pearce, who earned one U21 cap himself during a successful career for club and country, said that Tomkins' upbringing at West Ham's famed Academy had played a part in his mature display against the Azerbaijanis.

With fellow Hammer Noble also leading the side as captain, there will be a strong West Ham influence in the squad at Euro 2009, which begins with England's Group B opener against Finland in Halmstad on Monday.

"The one thing I must say is that they're all outstanding kids who have been brought up in the right manner, enjoy their football and are dedicated to their profession," observed Pearce. "Like the likes of Theo Walcott and James Milner, they are desperate to play, wherever you put them."