The Arsenal goalkeeper Stuart Taylor yesterday became the latest player to withdraw from the England Under-21 squad through injury. The 20-year-old, who was on the bench for the Gunners in Monday night's 4-0 Worthington Cup victory over Manchester United, pulled out of the party to play the Netherlands in the two-legged European Championship play-off after reporting with a problem yesterday.
He has been replaced by Chelsea's uncapped 19-year-old Rhys Evans, who joins Chris Kirkland of Liverpool and Leeds's Paul Robinson in the squad for Friday's game.
David Platt will be without the injured midfield duo of Bayern Munich's Owen Hargreaves and Leeds' recent £9m signing Seth Johnson. However, that is unlikely to upset the balance of the side as neither of them has featured prominently in recent Under-21 matches. Of more concern will be the knee injury which is threatening to rule out the Aston Villa striker Darius Vassell, who has formed a strong partnership with Jermain Defoe.
Platt has urged his side not to throw away all their good work since he took charge by failing to beat the Netherlands. Platt has seen the Under-21s win all four matches since he replaced Howard Wilkinson as head coach in the summer, including a 4-0 win over the Netherlands in a friendly in August. A trio of European victories, with the most notable being a 2-1 triumph over Germany in Freiburg, enabled them to top their qualifying group.
Platt is keen to make sure they now continue their impressive form by disposing of the Dutch to reach the eight-team 2002 finals next May.
"People will look at the 4-0 win we had over Holland in August but the result flattered us," Platt said. "We deserved to win but it was not a 4-0 game in all honesty. I've looked at videos of Holland in competitive games since that and they've used a similar squad to the one that came over to play us.
"But their actual starting line-up has been different. I went with what was my strongest XI on paper against them but I don't think the Dutch necessarily did the same.
"They had three or four who maybe might start that went on as substitutes at Reading – and they will be stronger than they were in that game. It's not a friendly. I think we are more than capable of winning the tie but if we go into it thinking it's a foregone conclusion because we beat Holland 4-0 then it will not be the correct assumption."Reuse content