European title is Platt's ambition for Under-21s

Victory over Dutch increases former England international's belief in potential of his inexperienced squad
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The Independent Football

David Platt, the England Under-21 coach, has boldly declared that his new crop of emerging players can win the European Championships.

Following England's failure to qualify for this summer's finals, and ending last year on the back of a four-match winless streak, there were claims Platt could lose his job.

But the former England international was delighted to usher in the new campaign with a victory over the Netherlands on Tuesday night. Platt's side ran out 3-2 winners of a friendly in front of a record crowd of 25,280 at Hull's KC Stadium on a night when there were eight debutants in the starting line-up.

His plans ahead of the next qualifying campaign, which begins in August, are aimed at building the confidence of such a young, inexperienced squad.

Platt described the display against the Dutch as "good offensively and reasonable defensively," which clearly indicates the area which he feels needs improvement in the next two matches prior to the qualifiers.

While there is work to be done, Platt is unafraid to stick his neck on the chopping block at such an early stage, demanding success both in terms of winning and providing a platform for the players to progress to the seniors.

"I've never hid behind the development aspect because I want both - to have my cake and to eat it," Platt explained. "I'm surprised at how much satisfaction I've derived from players going into the senior squad, the likes of Jermaine Jenas, John Terry, Alan Smith and Wayne Bridge.

"I spoke to Glen [Johnson] the other day and I'll be delighted if he goes to the seniors. It would weaken me and the under-21s, but it would be satisfying. Results might not then come, but I go into games to win them. I'm in the qualifiers to win the group and then win the European Championship.

"I'm not looking at my group of players and saying it will be success if we qualify, but then get knocked out in the group stages of the tournament. I put myself on the line. I want to qualify and to win the European Championships, and I believe we can do it."

Following goals from the debutants Dean Ashton and David Bentley, of Crewe Alexandra and Arsenal, England were twice pegged back by Jack Tuyp and Klass-Jan Huntelaar.

But the win Platt craved to "create belief" among his players, came three minutes from time courtesy of a strike from the Ipswich Town striker Darren Bent.

While Platt was pleased with the "endeavour, energy and work-rate," he feels if his side are to be successful they need to be "a little more resilient and professional in terms of understanding what it takes to win games," particularly for his health. He added: "International football often tells me if you concede two goals then you are not often going to score three and win, but if you do score three you are very unlikely to lose. But I don't want to win too many games 3-2 because at my age I can't take it."