Taylor starts to raise England's spirit level

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The Independent Online

Peter Taylor has challenged the current crop of England Under-21 players to repeat the success - in terms of results and being promoted into the senior squad - that he enjoyed in his first spell as coach.

Peter Taylor has challenged the current crop of England Under-21 players to repeat the success - in terms of results and being promoted into the senior squad - that he enjoyed in his first spell as coach.

Taylor got off to a winning start in his first competitive match back since being sacked by Howard Wilkinson five years ago as goals from Carlton Cole and Darren Bent clinched a 2-0 win against Austria in their opening European Championship qualifier in Krems on Friday night.

The Hull manager is already aiming to recreate the club spirit that he developed in the late 1990s squad, when Frank Lampard was skipper. And, of the 2004 generation, Taylor believes that Cole has the potential to break into the senior squad after another impressive display against Austria.

Taylor said: "If you lose a player into the senior squad, then that's great. Of course, it might affect your team for a game or two. But the bonus is that the other players will see one of their mates getting promoted and that will give them hope. The message is, we had good results before but we also managed to get a lot of players through the ranks; if we can get anything like that happening again, it will be tremendous for them. The current England senior squad is very hard to get into because we have got so many great players. But the [Under-21] players do understand they will be given an opportunity if they perform well, and they know the staff here will try to help them as much as they can."

Taylor knows that a squad with the right kind of spirit can make good progress, and the signs have already been encouraging. He said: "The first time I met up with them, last month, they were quite quiet, but there was certainly a bit more noise this time. I reminded them how much I liked Jamie Carragher, because he was so noisy and bubbly and he helped the squad with their spirit. I think they have taken that on board.

"We had a tremendous spirit before, and if we can produce a club spirit at Under-21 level it does help the players. You saw how much they were committed against Austria, and we could easily have scored more goals."

Taylor is full of praise for the way that Cole, currently on loan at Aston Villa from Chelsea, is adapting to the Under-21 scene, and believes he is benefiting from regular Premiership football. Taylor said: "Carlton is just realising that for him to stay in the Villa team, he has got to play in a consistent way and work extremely hard.

"He knows he has got to stay in good form, and his work rate is outstanding. I think he has the potential to make the step up. He is still a young player, but at the moment he is playing very well and looks a difficult opponent." Cole opened the scoring in the first half following a Garry O'Neil free-kick and then Bent sealed victory a minute from time after latching on to a pass from the impressive Nigel Reo-Coker.

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