Trio shine for England

Freddie Sears, James Tomkins and Junior Stanislas were all involved as England Under-20s were comfortable 2-0 winners against Italy.

Sears and Tomkins both started the match, while Stanislas came on as a 65th-minute substitute - and all had a part to play in the victory. Sears won the corner from which captain Ciaran Clark opened the scoring with a header in the 20th minute. Tomkins was dominant at the back in a 45-minute run-out, before being taken off in a pre-planned withdrawal at half-time. Stanislas excelled in his 25 minute cameo and was desperately unlucky not to have at least one assist to his name after several superb bits of play.

The contest at Loftus Road in west London got off to slow start and the Young Lions had Tomkins to thank for two crucial interceptions to keep the game goalless. In the 13th minute, he showed his pace and poise to race back and intercept the danger as the imposing Italian forward Stefano Okaka Chuca threatened.

Sears then made his mark on the game seven minutes later when he picked up a short pass in the area, beat one man before being thwarted by a last-ditch tackle. England were to get their reward seconds later though as Clark headed the set-piece in. Moments later, Tomkins, who celebrated his 20th birthday on Sunday, demonstrated his leadership by heading clear another dangerous Italian cross

On the half-hour mark, Manchester City's Daniel Sturridge added a second, firing in from just inside the penalty area. Two minutes later Sears came close to adding a third after some superb build-up play. The 19-year-old played a neat one-two with Sturridge, which sent him racing clear and, after out-pacing his marker, he was denied only by another vital Italian tackle.

Half-time saw Tomkins leave the pitch and England looked far less assured without his presence at the back. However, the match was livened up once more by Stanislas' introduction and the 19-year-old, who made his debut for the first team against West Bromwich Albion earlier this month was involved straight away - showing off some customary neat footwork to bamboozle his marker by the halfway line. Seconds later his deft flick sent Ryan Bertrand scampering down the left touchline and his centre fell to Sears, who was crowded out at the last moment.

Minutes later, Stanislas was involved once more as his inch perfect-centre was headed agonisingly wide by Sturridge. The crowd of 6,297 - including a watching Gianfranco Zola and Steve Clarke - will no doubt have been impressed by the West Ham trio, who will now look to carry the momentum into Saturday's match with Sunderland.

It was the first time the group of players had been together since reaching the UEFA European Under-19 Championship last summer and will have acted as excellent preparation for the FIFA U-20 World Cup to be help in Egypt in September.