Taylor hopes for 'weakest team possible' in Under-21 play-off

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The Independent Online

Taylor's youngsters completed their Group Six campaign with a 4-1 win against Poland at Hillsborough on Tuesday, and head into the two-legged tie in encouraging form. "We want to get the weakest team possible but we'll see," Taylor said. "They will be very strong, no matter who you play."

Carlton Cole and Jerome Thomas were on target in England's victory, with the Newcastle defender Steven Taylor finding the back of the net twice.

Cole finished well after 18 minutes when he raced on to a Gary O'Neil pass, while Thomas side-footed home from close range three minutes later. Taylor's goals were both from close range, the first after a surging run from defence and the second after Marcin Kikut had pulled a goal back with a fine shot from 25 yards.

After finishing their qualifying campaign in style, England would head into the tournament as potential winners should they emerge victorious in their play-off.

"They're very good to work with, and very exciting," Taylor said of his team. "It is a good crop but you don't know how good they are until they are in the senior team."

During the campaign Darren Bent and Kieran Richardson have been called into Sven Goran Eriksson's senior squad, and could be recalled for the play-off.

"We would still love Kieran Richardson and Darren Bent back, they are very important players," Taylor said. "The stronger we can be the better, and Sven knows it's nice for us to reach the finals

"I've no doubt he will help with Kieran and Darren if he can. If they are very much in his plans for the seniors then I totally understand that."

Taylor believes Bent and Richardson would return to a squad which has bonded well over the past year.

"I think we've got a club spirit here," he said. "The players are getting to know each other very well and they all get on.

"They give each other a lift when it's needed, which is good for us."

Taylor was pleased with the manner of the victory after they had lost to Austria in their penultimate game in the group.

"Some of the movement and the interchanging of position was really good. I'm going to enjoy watching the video."

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