Wheater set to lead youngsters
David Wheater will be handed the captain's armband for England U21s' friendly against Wales on Thursday.
By Chris Burton
Last Updated: 14/05/08 6:53pm
David Wheater will be handed the captain's armband for England U21s' friendly against Wales at the Racecourse Ground on Thursday.
The Middlesbrough centre-half has established himself as a first-team regular at the Riverside this season and has now been rewarded for a number of assured performances.
He has been given his opportunity to the lead the side due to Stuart Pearce's decision to rest Newcastle defender Steven Taylor, his usual skipper.
Wheater admits that the news has come as a pleasant surprise, and he could be celebrating again come the end of the month after being included in Fabio Capello's senior squad for the upcoming friendlies against USA and Trinidad and Tobago.
"To be named captain is a fantastic honour," he said.
"I didn't expect to be at Middlesbrough this season, I thought I may have been going out on loan, but the manager put me in and it's just gone on from there.
"I've got my Under-21s call-up and then the seniors.
"Going to meet John Terry and Rio Ferdinand will be great but I won't be taking my autograph book."
Tom Huddlestone, Theo Walcott, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Joe Hart have all been included in the both the U21 and full squad, and Pearce believes that Manchester City keeper Hart is just one of his youngsters who has the potential to become a firm fixture in the international fold.
"He's taken his chance and established a claim to be Manchester City's first-choice goalkeeper and in my opinion he's gone beyond that as well," Pearce said.
"He's been a major part of this squad and has potential to achieve whatever he wants.
"He's got a bit of everything - shot-stopping, distribution and he's 6ft 5in. I have a feeling he has a temperament that will see him take everything in his stride.
"I hope he keeps his first-team berth at Man City next season, I'm sure he will.
"On top of that, hopefully he can stay in the senior squad."