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By ESPN Staff
Nov 15, 2006

U-21 youngsters inspired by Richards call-up

David Nugent believes Micah Richards' promotion to Steve McClaren's senior team has increased belief among England Under-21 players that they can graduate under Peter Taylor's guidance.

Taylor has nurtured talent for the seniors in his two spells as coach of the England Under-21s, although he stepped aside for the friendly win against Holland yesterday due to commitments at Crystal Palace.

Sammy Lee took charge for the 1-0 win in Alkmaar against a team who at age-group level are European champions, and was without the services of seven injured players and those such as Richards who were with the full squad.

Preston striker Nugent, 21, said: 'All the lads are delighted for Micah and it gives us a bit of belief we can get promoted to the first-team squad.

'You always dream to play for your country at the highest level. You look to the young lads like Aaron Lennon that have come through, we want to do the same. Hopefully we will get the chance in upcoming friendlies.'

Tom Huddlestone, who was standing in for Nigel Reo-Coker as skipper in Holland, added: 'It's everyone's aim in the under-21s to get in the senior squad, and Micah got his chance.

'It shows the new manager is willing to give youth a chance, but you've just got to do your best at club level and for the under-21s and hopefully the manager will give us more of a chance.'

England Under-21s are emerging as leading contenders for next year's European Championships after defeating the holders courtesy of Justin Hoyte's winner at the DSB Stadion.

'They are one of the biggest sides in Europe at this age, but equally we are as well,' Huddlestone added.

'A lot of out players are in the Premiership week-in week-out, so we do not fear anyone.'

With the raft of withdrawals prior to the friendly, it was down to the 19-year-old Tottenham midfielder to maintain the club atmosphere forged by Taylor.

Players have backed Taylor to lead them at next year's finals - which are also in Holland - and he is expected to be in charge for the friendly against Spain in February.

'We seem to have a club mentality,' said Huddlestone. 'The banter on and off the training field is good and I think that shows on the pitch with how hard we work.

'With Anton Ferdinand and Nigel not travelling, it was me and Matt Kilgallon who led the banter.'

Stand-in coach Lee said: 'It's a lot easier when you come into a club-type situation.'

Of their chances next year, Lee added: 'I don't want to put pressure on them, we've had that in the past.

'But you will certainly get a group of players going there and giving an account of themselves the country can be proud of.'

Huddlestone led by example against the Dutch, while Nugent worked tirelessly as a lone striker.

The 21-year-old Nugent, who has previously been linked with a move to Everton, has made no secret of his desire to play in the top flight and he is hoping to be there next season with Preston.

'Most of the players here are in the Premiership, playing week-in week-out, and that's what I want to do,' he said.

'I'm happy at Preston at the moment, we're flying high and hopefully this season we can go up.

'My desire is to play in the Premiership. Hopefully it will be with Preston next year, I want to be there and I'm confident with the squad we've got at Preston we can go all the way.'