Sven-Goran Eriksson confirmed that Everton striker Wayne Rooney
England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson confirmed that Everton striker Wayne Rooney would become the youngest player ever to play for England against Australia tomorrow night. The 17-year-old will play in the second half as part of the 'young England XI' that Eriksson intends to play after fielding a more first-choice, experienced side in the first forty-five minutes.
He said: "The plans are that he [Rooney] will start the second half. Of course it's a great, great thing for him but I think he deserves it, especially when we decided to play a young team, and it will be very interesting to see.
"When you are 17 and playing a senior match for England there is going to be huge interest and also the fact he is going to be youngest ever, but he can handle it.
"I spoke to him yesterday one to one and he seemed to be a bright boy and he's a good football player.
"I can tell you from having seen him in training that he's a big talent, he knows how to play football.
"He's 17 and he's maybe a little bit nervous but it's the first time he's here and that's good for him and for us."
On Rooney, Eriksson then added: "He is 17, but he is not speaking loudly! Perhaps he is a little bit nervous, maybe that's normal."
And for Eriksson, there is not an issue in fielding such a young side in the second half.
"Whatever the result in the first half, I think it is more important to save the players," said the Swede, no doubt pleasing several club managers who see the friendly as an unnecessary diversion from their players' domestic duties.
"It is more interesting to see a young team like this than a second team. They are improving a lot this season ... doing a lot better than they did last season."
Another striking talent who has caught Eriksson's eye is James Beattie, and the manager believes Beattie is also ready to make his England debut as well.
"I have seen him a lot of times this season and in training yesterday. He might start tomorrow, it is a very good opportunity."
The England boss added: "These are the best talents we have in the country. If it had been a World Cup qualification game or whatever, it might have been different but we can look at this experiment and enjoy it."
England captain David Beckham believes that Rooney will "take his chance" when he makes his England debut against Australia at Upton Park tomorrow night.
The young Everton forward burst onto the Premiership scene this season with a brilliantly taken goal against Arsenal and now he is set to become the youngest England international ever at the age of 17.
England captain Beckham said: "He is so young and has been quiet around the hotel, but he has fitted in well.
"When he gets his chance on Wednesday night he will take it, as he has proved week in and week out.
"He has just got to enjoy his football at the moment. Whatever comes with that his manager will help him with. He's doing that already by stopping him doing interviews.
"There will come a time when he has got to do the interviews but I am sure he will handle that because he seems very level-headed," Beckham said.
Beckham is ready to use his position as captain to help look after the many younger players in the squad such as Rooney, and admitted it was a little odd to be one of the most experienced players in the squad.
"It was the same when I came into the squad, you look up to certain players if you are worried or need some help.
"If they need to talk to me or some of the older players, they can do."
Sven-Goran Eriksson is likely to field some of the youngsters in the second half at Upton Park, with Rooney likely to be joined by players like Matthew Upson, James Beattie, Scott Parker, Paul Konchesky, Jermaine Jenas (pictured) and Sean Davis.
Beckham added: "It's always great to see youngsters coming through. And with the youngsters we have in this squad, there's no doubt they deserve the chance."
And for Beckham, there is no problem in Rooney playing in the full senior squad so early in his career.
The captain said: "It doesn't matter about the sides leading up to the full squad. If you are good enough, that doesn't matter to me."
The Manchester United midfielder also agreed with his manager that the decision to field two teams against Australia is the right thing to do.
"It's not ideal but at the end of the day at this point of the season you can't afford to play a full match. The management and staff are doing the right thing. It gives the players who are coming into the squad a great chance."
Beckham also claimed he and his international team-mates are as keen to win this friendly as any match. "The players don't care what people say about club versus country, we want to play in every game.
"Every game is a big game to me and the rest of the players. I won't be taking the game lightly."
"The lads have fitted in as if they've been in the whole time, it's gone really well," added Beckham.
The skipper, who of course was born in nearby Leytonstone in East London, added that it would be nice experience for him to play at West Ham witrh the full backing of the fans.
"I think it will be nice to take a corner and not get a little bit of stick! I was practising corners this morning and it was a bit weird not getting stick."
He added: "The West Ham fans deserve it and people know West Ham fans love England and want to see them play.
"It's a big game, the players will be wanting to win the game and people will be wanting to make more of it.
"They've got a good squad and it's going to be a big game, a lot of their players are based in the Premiership."