VIDEO: 'U21s have X-Factor'
by Jamie Bradbury
Monday, 05 September, 2011
Steven Caulker says England's new Under-21s squad has bonded well.
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Watch the FATV inter view with Steven Caulker ahead of the Israel meeting
Swansea City defender Steven Caulker says the new-look England Under-21s squad has bonded well in its first week together and says they are full of confidence as they prepare to take on Israel.
Stuart Pearce's men beat Azerbaijan on Thursday in their opening Euro 2013 Qualifying fixture, and now meet the Finals hosts in a friendly match at Barnsley on Monday night. 19-year-old Caulker, who started his first game at the heart of the Three Lions defence, is hoping the team can continue their form at Oakwell and says that a spot of singing has helped the team to bond.
"It's been a good week, we've got the ball down and played and it's been a good experience for the boys all round," said Caulker following the team's training session at the stadium.
"It's a nice pitch and it'll be nice to get the ball down and hopefully we've put on a good performance against Israel.
"After the 6-0 win Thursday night there's a lot of confidence. We passed the ball well, but at the start of the second half we were a bit edgy. We were 3-0 up we didn't know where to go from there, but we found our feet again and finished up with a great victory."
He added: "Everyone's getting on really well. We had an X-Factor competition to help everyone get to know each other. Me and Briggsy [Matthew Briggs] did a duo, it was a good laugh and everyone got up and did their bit."
Thursday's win at Watford was Caulker's second appearance for the Under-21s, having come off the bench for his Under-21s bow against Germany last November. But the Swans man, currently on loan at the Liberty Stadium from Tottenham Hotspur, was the only player in the back four to have featured for Pearce previously.
Caulker's centre-back partner, Craig Dawson, was one of the three defenders playing at Under-21s level for the first time and weighed in with England's first and sixth goals against Azerbaijan, and now the former U19 international wants to find the net himself.
"A lot of people have made their debuts, and it was my first starting a competitive game, so it was a big achievement for me and I enjoyed it," he said.
"It put's a bit of pressure on me now, but to get two on your debut you can't ask for much more, he's [Craig] done well.
"All eleven and the subs have put a shift in. There were boys who didn't even make the bench who have been fantiastic in training, so it's a great squad and it could be an exciting year."
Caulker added: "The gaffer will want to look at a few players, myself included, and there are lads who will want to make an impact and an impression on the gaffer. It may be a friendly but from our point of view we have to prove ourself."
To follow England Under-21s in the build up to the game at Barnsley on Monday night, log on to TheFA.com, follow at www.twitter.com/thefadotcom or like at www.facebook.com/EnglandU21s