Nathan Delfouneso urges England to take next step

10 June 2011 01:37
ShareNathan Delfouneso has urged his England team-mates to prove they can be the real 'golden generation' by winning the European Under 21 Championship.

That tag may have something of a hollow ring to it after the country's repeated failures at senior level and Aston Villa striker Delfouneso knows it will not have real meaning until a squad returns home with the most precious of metals hanging around their necks.

Head coach Stuart Pearce believes that process must begin at under 21 level, and with semi-final and runner-up finishes at the last two European Championships, there is only one logical next step at the current tournament in Denmark, according to Delfouneso.

Up for the cup: Nathan Delfouneso (right) believes England can triumph despite missing several key players

'We're here to win it,' he said. 'Over the past couple of years, we've gone from bronze to silver and now we believe it's time to go and get the gold and bring back the trophy.

'It is about progression but we also really want to win it as well, and that's the aim for everyone here.'

England's hopes of taking that final step have been hit by the withdrawal of key players such as Jack Wilshere, Andy Carroll, Micah Richards and Kieran Gibbs, all of whom have senior experience.

'Jack's not here and it's been well documented about the players that are not here,' Delfouneso said.

'But we're all very comfortable with everyone that's here, we're all quality players and we all believe that we can push together and go and bring back the trophy.'

Dream move: Phil Jones (left) trains with England after completing his move to Manchester United

Delfouneso may not have even made thesquad had Carroll been fully fit and he looks like playing only a bit-part in Denmark, with Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck and even ScottSinclair ahead of him in the pecking order.

'We've got to some quality strikers here but I'm trying to push myself to be the on that's playing up there,' said the 20-year-old, who has eight caps.

'It's tough competition but I'll keep trying to impress and keep trying to get myself into that team.'

A substitute role beckons in Sunday's mouthwatering Group B opener against Spain, who boast World Cup and Champions League winners in their ranks and who look England's biggest rivals for the title.

Delfouneso said: 'I really like Spanish football and I do watch it a lot.

'I do know some of the players they've got there and they do have a lot of quality.

'But we've got to believe in ourselves that we've got quality players as well and we can go and put in a great performance and we can go and beat them.

Anfield bound: Jordan Henderson (centre) also completed his big move, signing for Liverpool

'It doesn't matter who they've got or who they've brought. It's down to us to go and concentrate on what we want to do.'

That might prove difficult for Delfouneso, who is eagerly waiting to hear who Villa will appoint as their new manager following the departure of Gerard Houllier.

'I'm sure they've got a few managers in mind. I'll probably leave that down to the chairman and chief exec to go and deal with.

'I'm sure they're doing all they can to sort it out.'

Whoever gets the job will inherit a host of current and prospective senior England internationals, including Darren Bent, Ashley Young, Stewart Downing and Marc Albrighton.

Delfouneso said: 'We've got a lot of internationals who have done the club proud.

'Hopefully, with me and Sharky (Albrighton) here, we can push on and make the club proud as well.'

 Team-by-team guide to the European Under 21 Championships in DenmarkHenderson and Jones join forces for England after signing for Premier League rivalAnother Arsenal ace exits England Under 21 squad as injured Gibbs follows Wilshere outPearce to rotate squad in bid for U21 European Championship glory

 Explore more:People: Darren Bent, Ashley Young, Danny Welbeck, Andy Carroll, Jack Wilshere, Stewart Downing, Stuart Pearce, Gerard Houllier, Daniel Sturridge Places: Spain, Denmark, United Kingdom

Source: Daily_Mail