Swede dreams for Noble

Mark Noble has headed into the weekend on a high after leading England into the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Championship semi-finals in Sweden.

The West Ham United midfielder will be able to switch off a little after playing a key role in the victories against Finland and Spain that ensured the Young Lions a place in the last four even before Monday night's final Group B game against Germany in Halmstad. As such, Noble may be rested for that fixture and could have more than a week to fully focus on next Friday's semi-finals, and the increased hopes of lifting the trophy come the final on 29 June.

Noble, who has been spending his spare time writing a blog for theFA.com and is enjoying plenty of golf and bike-riding with his team-mates, was one of a number of Young Lions who caught the eye for Stuart Pearce's side as they saw off Spain with a 2-0 win on Thursday night.

The Iberian nation had gone into the tournament as favourites but England were in no way overawed as second-half goals from Frazier Campbell and James Milner put them to the sword in Gothenburg.

"I thought we thoroughly deserved it," said Noble, who is aiming to go one better with the U21s after losing in the semi-finals of the 2007 edition. "Spain knocked it about well but that's the way they're brought up and we always knew they were going to do that.

"But we played really well as a team, broke out and scored a couple of goals and that's what we needed to do to book a place in the semi-final. No one can take that away from us and we're over the moon."

While Spain are left to battle it out with Germany for the other qualification place, England can start to size up their potential opponents in the semi-finals with either Italy or Sweden looking likely after their second group games on Friday evening. For now, though, the England No10 said all in the squad are concentrating only to the final group game against Germany on Monday.

"We're taking one game as it comes, done a bit on Finland, done a bit on Spain and now we play Germany in the last group game. Our aim was to come here and win our first two games as we thought that would be enough to earn us a semi-final place and that's where every team wants to be."

A win or a draw on Monday will confirm top spot but with progression secured, any reshuffling by Pearce could mean a second appearance of the tournament for Noble's club team-mate James Tomkins. The 20-year-old impressed in a late cameo role in the 2-1 success against the Finns last Monday and would relish the chance of a first competitive start for his country at this level.