Carr proud of U21 pair

West Ham United Academy director Tony Carr is backing star graduates Mark Noble and James Tomkins to lead England to UEFA European Under-21 Championship glory.

Noble will lead England into battle against old foes Germany in the Swedish city of Malmo on Monday evening, while Tomkins is expected to be among the substitutes.

Carr knows U21 captain Noble better than anyone, having overseen his emergence from bubbly schoolboy to Barclays Premier League midfielder.

Meanwhile, central defender Tomkins, who spent more than a decade working under Carr's watchful eye at Little Heath, burst into the limelight during the second half of the 2008/09 season, deservedly earning a place in Stuart Pearce's 23-man squad.

"It is a terrific achievement for both of them," said Carr. "To play in a final at any level is an achievement, but to do so in the European Under-21 Championship is something to be proud of.

"Mark is a massively important player for England and will be so again in the final. He has always been the same. He still just wants to play football and have the ball at his feet all the time. That shows in him on the pitch.

"Stuart Pearce has said that he is a vital part of his team. He is a bouncy character and inspires his team-mates."

While 22-year-old Noble has been the mainstay of Pearce's midfield throughout the qualifying campaign and final tournament, Tomkins only made his U21 debut in a 7-0 friendly win over Azerbaijan at the beginning of June.

However, the 20-year-old did complete a full 90 minutes in England's 1-1 draw with the Germans in the group stage on 22 June, giving him vital big-match experience ahead of Monday's showdown.

"James has played his part and had a great experience too. He has appeared in a couple of games and played the full game against the Germans. Stuart has made clear that he is very much part of his squad."

The last time a West Ham player captained England in a major international tournament final was on 30 July 1966, when Bobby Moore led the Three Lions to a thrilling 4-2 victory over West Germany at Wembley. All of England's goals were famously scored by Hammers Geoff Hurst, who netted a hat-trick, and Martin Peters.

Carr, then himself a member of the Hammers' youth Academy, firmly believes Noble can follow in Moore's legendary footsteps on Monday evening.

"Let's hope history repeats itself and we see a West Ham player lifting a trophy for England again," said Carr. "We've already laid one ghost to rest by winning a penalty shoot-out in the semi-final so it would be nice to do so again by beating the Germans.

"Unlike the semi-final against Sweden which finished three-all, I expect it to be a tight game. The Germans are a good side and it's going to be tough. On the night, though, it is all about the result rather than the performance."