Kieran Gibbs found himself in familiar surroundings yesterday as he trained with his England U-21 teammates at London Colney ahead of today’s UEFA u-21 European Championships warm-up match with Azerbaijan at Stadiummk.
Gibbs is set to be the first-choice left-back for the Three Lions throughout the tournament and will start tonight as Stuart Pearce makes his final decisions before the tournament kicks off in Sweden a week today.
England are in Group A and will face Finland, Germany and Spain, with Bojan Krcic of Barcelona amongst the Spanish ranks. Group B, meanwhile, consists of the hosts Sweden along with Belarus, Italy and Serbia.
Theo Walcott and James Milner will not feature in tonight’s game as they are with the senior side ahead of Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier against Andorra at Wembley.
Predicted team for England U21 v Azerbaijan U21 [Tonight, 7.45pm]
Meanwhile, Pearce has refused to back down to Arsene Wenger’s commands concerning Theo Walcott. The winger played 45 minutes for the senior side in Almaty against Kazakhstan on Saturday and could feature again against Andorra on Wednesday night.
That will not stop Pearce naming him in his starting line-up for the U-21 tournament in Sweden. Pearce said:
‘I beg to disagree with Arsene. I respect his views but Theo and I want to try and win the European Championships.’
England squad for 2009 UEFA u-21 European Championships in Sweden:
Joe Hart (Manchester City), Joe Lewis (Peterborough United), Scott Loach (Watford)
Martin Cranie (Portsmouth), Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal), Michael Mancienne (Chelsea), Nedum Onuoha (Manchester City), Micah Richards (Manchester City), Andrew Taylor (Middlesbrough), Richard Stearman (Wolverhampton Wanderers), James Tomkins (West Ham United)
Lee Cattermole (Wigan Athletic), Andrew Driver (Hearts), Craig Gardner (Aston Villa), Adam Johnson (Middlesbrough), James Milner (Aston Villa), Fabrice Muamba (Bolton Wanderers), Mark Noble (West Ham United), Jack Rodwell (Everton), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur)
Theo Walcott (Arsenal) Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa), Fraizer Campbell (Manchester United)