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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 April, 2005, 16:24 GMT 17:24 UK
Grip tips trio for stardom
By Simon Austin

England have named their squad for next month's European Under-17 Championship in Italy and the 18 players selected will now be dreaming of making an impression on the international stage.

Wayne Rooney excelled for the Under-17s before going on to become a star for the full England team and the current crop will obviously be hoping to do the same.

England assistant Tord Grip has been closely following the current crop of youngsters as he looks for the players who could star at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

The Swede travelled to the Algarve in January to watch England compete against France, Norway and Portugal in an Under-17 tournament and returned with glowing reports of three players:


Theo Walcott
* Photo courtesy of Southampton Football Club
Club: Southampton
Position: Winger
Under-17 caps: Nine
Under-17 goals: Five

The 16-year-old winger is the undoubted star of England's Under-17 side and one of the hottest prospects in British football.

In February he was linked with a 2m move to Chelsea and was watched by both Arsenal and Manchester United.

But on his 16th birthday, on 16 March this year, he signed for the club that discovered him - Southampton.

Grip was hugely impressed with Walcott at the Algarve tournament.

"Technically, he is very good - and extremely fast as well," he said.

"He has the ability to beat defenders with his skill, pace and balance.

"He is so mature for his age and has a very strong character. He should get better and better."


Club: Middlesbrough
Position: Defender
Under-17 caps: Eleven
Under-17 goals: One

The England Under-17 skipper is a product of the much-vaunted Middlesbrough Academy.

He has mainly played at centre-half for England, but can also operate in midfield.

Grip said: "Hines has a good personality and is a good leader.

"He's a strong defender - solid in the air and in the tackle. And like so many of the England side, he's very technically accomplished.

"He is good on the ball and effective at coming forward to begin attacks."

Hines is in his first year at the academy and is tipped to break into the first team very soon.


A good goalkeeper is a pre-requisite for any decent side - and the England Under-17s possess one in Tottenham's David Button.

Club: Tottenham
Position: Goalkeeper
Under-17 caps: Eight

"Button is a very good all-round keeper," Grip says. "He's agile and athletic and an excellent shot-stopper.

"But, as importantly, he makes good decisions and is decisive at coming for crosses."

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