Southgate hails Wheater rise

21 March 2008 07:11
Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate has praised centre-back David Wheater, following the youngster's call-up to the senior England squad for the friendly in France next week. The 21-year-old has been included in the preliminary 30-man squad for the Stade de France clash, having made a string of impressive performances for Boro this season. Southgate said: "The key for David at the moment is, as I have said all along this season, there is an innocence about him and there is no fear in his play. "That happens at the beginning of your career and we have to keep that period going for as long as we possibly can. "He thoroughly deserves it. His performances this year have been outstanding, he is maturing all the time and this is the next stage for him. "We spoke about this with him when we were signing his new contract. There are loads of targets for him still to hit and what he has done this year he has got to repeat year after year. "But to get into that provisional squad is a great starting point for him. Hopefully, he is involved in the full squad and the experience will be fantastic for him." Wheater has five England Under-21s caps to his name already, while he has scored five times in 41 appearances for the Teessiders to date.

Source: ESA

World Cup Group G

Pos Team Pld Pts
- Belgium 0 0
- Panama 0 0
- Tunisia 0 0
- England 0 0