Westlake's England hopes

IAN Westlake is ready to force his way into Peter Taylor's playing side after winning his second England Under-21 call-up.Ipswich team-mate Darren Bent is also in the 25- man squad to play Austria in the Sepp Droll Stadium, Krems next Friday and Poland the following Tuesday in Rybrink, but there is no second cap just yet for the injured Matt Richards.

By Derek Davis

IAN Westlake is ready to force his way into Peter Taylor's playing side after winning his second England Under-21 call-up.

Ipswich team-mate Darren Bent is also in the 25- man squad to play Austria in the Sepp Droll Stadium, Krems next Friday and Poland the following Tuesday in Rybrink, but there is no second cap just yet for the injured Matt Richards.

Clacton born and bred Westlake won his first call-up but didn't get on for Taylor's England last week as they beat Ukraine 3-1, with Bent snatching his third goal in six international outings.


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Westlake said: “I have 10 days to show Peter Taylor what I'm about. All I can do is get my head down, work hard and hope that I can convince him to play me, even if it is for a few minutes in the second game.

“It is a terrific honour to be selected again and I'm proud to be in the squad but I really want to play and not just wear the shirt.

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“You can see by Peter Taylor's results what a great coach he is and I'm happy he has called me up again but he doesn't really get the chance to see you at close quarters very often.

“It may help that Darren is there because we know each other's game so well and in training he is always looking sharp and will be pushing for a place. It is up to me to do well and try and catch him up in the England team.”

England will be looking to get off to a good start in the European Championship, before meeting Wales next month. That fixture will throw up an interesting clash between house-mates, as Wales keeper Lewis Price and Westlake live in the same Ipswich house.

The pair are back on speaking terms after Westlake applied the finishing touch to Price's huge drop-kick in the win over Brentford, and Westlake has even had an apology from senior keeper Kelvin Davis after the 'goalkeeper's union' gave him a hard time for stealing Price's thunder.

Now the young keeper is getting stick from the England players as the two countries are in the same European Championship qualifying group.

Westlake said: “The banter has already started, especially between Darren and Lewis. I have been keeping out of it because I was not as sure as Benty that I would be in the squad.

“With his goalscoring record, and Lewis in with a good chance of being the number one, it will be very interesting. It is a long way off yet but I hope we are all involved, and to supply Benty with his goal would be a fairytale night for us.”

The 20-year-old midfielder has already won international honours when he represented England against the USA at water-polo as a schoolboy but he admits this is a bigger deal.

He said: “There is a lot more prestige in being picked to represent your country at football than water polo.

“No disrespect to water polo, it is a great sport, but not so many people play it so it is a lot easier to gain recognition at it if you are any good at all.

“It is different with football, every boy born in England kicks a ball from an early age, whether it is down the park with your mates or at school or whatever, and it is almost everyone's dream to play for England at football.”

Westlake is among five players in the squad who have yet to be capped, with Wigan's Leighton Baines the only new inclusion.

The full squad

Ashton (Crewe), Baines (Wigan), Bent (Ipswich), Bentley (Arsenal), Camp (Derby), Carson (Leeds), Cole (Chelsea), Davenport (Coventry), Downing (Middlesbrough), Ferdinand (West Ham), Harding (Brighton), Hoyte (Arsenal), Hunt (Bolton), Johnson (Chelsea), Kilgallon (Leeds), Lonergan (Preston), Milner (Newcastle), O'Neil (Portsmouth), Pennant (Arsenal), Reo-Coker (West Ham), Stead (Blackburn), Taylor (Newcastle), Welsh (Liverpool), Westlake (Ipswich) and Whittingham (Aston Villa).

n Former Ipswich Town Academy director Paul Goddard, who is doing some work at Playford Lane, is part of Peter Taylor's England Under-21 scouting team.

derek.davis@eadt.co.uk

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