Zola tips pair for England

Gianfranco Zola has tipped West Ham United youngsters Mark Noble and James Tomkins to force their way into Fabio Capello's full England squad.

Midfielder Noble and central defender Tomkins have been in superb form in recent weeks, with the pair both producing eye-catching displays in front of watching England head coach Capello in last Saturday's 3-0 home Barclays Premier League defeat by Liverpool.

Noble, who turned 22 on 8 May, is expected to form an integral part of former Hammer Stuart Pearce's squad for this summer's UEFA European Under-21 Championship finals in Sweden. With 106 first-team appearances to his name, the youngster is already the Hammers' longest-serving current player.

Tomkins, who has represented his country and Under-15, U16, U17, U19 and U20 levels, has been a revelation alongside England international Matthew Upson at the heart of the back-four since being drafted into the side for the FA Cup fifth-round replay at Middlesbrough on 25 February.

As such, West Ham manager Zola is forecasting that it will not be long before his compatriot Capello selects both Academy graduates in his senior squad. Should he do so, their selections would take the number of full England internationals at the club to nine.

Carlton Cole, Robert Green and Upson were all in Capello's most recent squad, while Dean Ashton, Lee Bowyer, Kieron Dyer and Scott Parker have also worn the Three Lions.

"I haven't spoken to Capello so I'm not sure exactly what he has said about them but I'm not surprised about them," said Zola. "They are good players and have performed well and picked up their performances very well. I wouldn't be surprised to see them playing in the national team soon.

"Against Liverpool they both played a good game, despite the fact we lost 3-0. I think they performed very well and I'm sure they will be there soon."

Noble and Tomkins would also join the long line of full England internationals to have emerged under the tutelage of Academy director Tony Carr.

Tony Cottee, Paul Ince, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Michael Carrick, Joe Cole, Glen Johnson, Kieran Richardson and Jermain Defoe all learned their trade under Carr, who has been awarded a Testimonial by the club following 36 years of hard work and commitment to the Academy.