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By ESPN Staff
May 15, 2008

Pearce tips Hart to be England number one

England Under-21 boss Stuart Pearce has backed Joe Hart to establish himself in the senior squad following his recent call-up.

Hart will be in goal for the under-21s tonight against Wales at Wrexham's Racecourse Ground but he could also play for Fabio Capello's full side when they face USA and Trinidad and Tobago after being rewarded for his impressive season at Manchester City.

Pearce, who signed Hart from Shrewsbury when he was City boss, said: '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.

'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 5ins. 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, I'm sure he will, on top of that hopefully he can stay in the senior squad.'

David Wheater will take the next step in his journey from League Two to England international when he captains the team in tonight's friendly.

The Middlesbrough centre-back, 21, was on loan at Darlington last season but has established himself at the Riverside since and will skipper England's youngsters as Steven Taylor has been rested.

'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. I've got my under-21s call-up and then the seniors.'

Despite being an autograph hunter, Wheater will not be asking his heroes for signatures 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 added.

Hart, Tom Huddlestone, Theo Walcott and Gabriel Agbonlahor are also in both the under-21 and senior squads.