Junior Stanislas is set to make his competitive bow with England Under-21s this afternoon and is looking forward to making another major step forward.
The flying winger has made an outstanding start to the new season for his club, summed up by his two-goal show in the Carling Cup defeat of Millwall. Stanislas also got his first taste of U21 duty in the goalless draw against the Netherlands last month and is set to have the No7 shirt again for England this afternoon in FYR Macedonia.
The Young Lions have headed to Prilep for the first match of the qualifying programme to reach the 2011 UEFA European Under-21 Championship. While motivated by the legacy of previous Hammers at this level, Stanislas is also benefiting from being in the squad with club-mates with James Tomkins and Freddie Sears.
"It is good," said the 19-year-old. "It has helped to be with Tonks and Fred because I know them from West Ham. People like Anton, Rio and Joe Cole have also been through that process too, so it's nice to be following in their footsteps.
"Hopefully I can establish myself and push on again. It's only one step up from the U21s to the seniors, but it's a very big step."
After today, Stanislas will head to Greece for a second qualifier next Tuesday but, as an indicator of his growing maturity, he will not mind the journey because of the bigger picture. "We travel quite a lot with both West Ham and England. The game is worldwide so you have to go to play in all kinds of places.
"I don't particularly enjoy the travelling itself as it takes it out of you, but the games themselves I enjoy."