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The BBC's John Murray
"Wilkinson has assembled as strong a squad as possible"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 21 March, 2000, 19:33 GMT
Experience selected amongst youth
Wilkinson calls on experience and youth
England under-21 boss Howard Wilkinson has drafted in most of the Premiership's best young English players for this month's European Championship play-off against Yugoslavia.

Five of the 23-man squad for the match at Barcelona's Nou Camp stadium on 29 March have full caps for the England senior side.

And many of the players in Wilkinson's squad will not only be out to impress the under-21 boss, but also senior team manager Kevin Keegan.

Tournament football is the ultimate test at international level

Howard Wilkinson
If England win the one-off match then the team will qualify for the finals, which will be held in Slovakia, in May.

Wilkinson believes that experience at the under-21 tournament would serve the players well in the future.

"Experience in tournaments and winning tournaments is something we have not had a lot of in this country. It's invaluable. Tournament football is the ultimate test at international level," said the former Leeds manager.

Liverpool's new 11m striker Emile Heskey along with Newcastle's Kieron Dyer and West Ham's Rio Ferdinand are the notable inclusions in a 23-man squad.

Heskey's club-mate Michael Owen, an established full international but still only 20, is not picked as he tries to receover from long-term hamstring problems.

West Ham star Frank Lampard and Villa's Lee Hendrie have won caps at senior level, as have Heskey, Dyer and Ferdinand.

Dyer hopes to make an impact for Wilkinson
Ispwich goalkeeper Richard Wright, Aston Villa's Gareth Barry and Stephen Gerrard of Liverpool were also all in the last full England squad.

Leeds United are represented with four of their players, but both Lee Bowyer and defender Jonathan Woodgate will not be in England squads while their court case continues.

"It was a very difficult decision that the FA have made - but now that decision has been made it does nobody any good to comment on it," said Wilkinson.

England have had to go into a play-off despite winning their group with 21 points out of a possible 24.

The game was due to be played four months ago in Luxembourg, but was cancelled due to the country's inability to handle security arrangements for a match involving Yugoslavia.


Ball (Everton), Barry (Aston Villa), Bridges (Leeds), Carragher (Liverpool), Chadwick (Man Utd), Cole (West Ham), Cort (Wimbledon), Curtis (Man Utd), Dyer (Newcastle), Ferdinand (West Ham), Gerrard (Liverpool), Harley (Chelsea), Hendrie (Aston Villa), Heskey (Liverpool), Johnson (Derby), Lampard (West Ham), Mills (Leeds), Morris (Chelsea), Robinson (Leeds), Smith (Leeds), Weaver (Man City), Wright (Ipswich), Young (Tottenham).

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