Wheater 'honoured' by England Under-21 captaincy

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The Independent Online

David Wheater will take the next step in his journey from League Two to England international when he captains the Under-21s against Wales tonight.

The Middlesbrough centre-back, 21, was on loan at Darlington last season but has established himself at the Riverside since. He will captain England's youngsters as Steven Taylor has been rested for the friendly at Wrexham's Racecourse Ground.

Wheater could also make his senior debut later this month as he is in the squad for the matches against the USA and Trinidad and Tobago.

"To be named captain is a fantastic honour," said Wheater. "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."

Wheater claims he will not be daunted when he meets up with the seniors. "Going to meet John Terry and Rio Ferdinand will be great but I won't be taking my autograph book," he said.

Tom Huddlestone, Theo Walcott and Gabriel Agbonlahor are also in both Under-21 and senior squads, as is the Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart.

Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce believes Hart has the potential to establish himself as a regular in the senior squad. "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 take everything in his stride.

"I hope he keeps his first-team berth at Man City next season. On top of that, hopefully he can stay in the senior squad."

Elsewhere, Luton claim they have yet to receive confirmation of a 15-point penalty from the Football League for breaking rules on exiting administration.

The Hatters went into administration in November and despite the LTFC2020 group agreeing to buy the club in January, the process has been held up by Leeds' appeal over their own 15-point penalty.

But after the decision was taken to confirm the sanction for United not exiting administration with a Creditors Voluntary Agreement (CVA), the Hatters are in line to start next season in League Two with the same penalty.

Czech Republic coach Karel Brueckner named a 23-man squad yesterday for a Euro 2008 training camp and excluded Pavel Nedved, who had been rumoured to be considering a return from international retirement.

The 35-year old former captain, who has just extended his contract with Juventus, will be missing from next week's camp in Austria as will captain Tomas Rosicky, who underwent surgery to his injured knee tendon on Tuesday and misses the tournament.

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