Offiong wins call-up

Last updated : 06 June 2003 By Martyn Elliott

The 19-year-old striker, who spent most of last season on-loan at Darlington and Motherwell, is the only United player in the squad, with Michael Chopra and Jermaine Jenas still eligible but already playing international football at a higher level.

Coach Les Reed has hinted that he expects Offiong to start the first round games against Portugal, Argentina, Turkey and Japan, telling the FA’s official website: "We are without people like Michael Chopra, Dean Ashton and Carlton Cole so there will be an increased responsibility for goals on the shoulders of Richard Offiong and Jerome Thomas. But it's a good opportunity for them both."

Reed is using the tournament as preparation for the rescheduled World Youth Championships in Dubai in November, when he hopes to include Newcastle’s England Under-17 captain Steven Taylor in his squad.

"I want to take quality players to that tournament," he added.

"I realise that players like Glen Johnson who have already stepped up to the Under-21s and have cemented first team spots at club level may not be available, so I'm looking the other way to the youth teams, with a view to fast-tracking some of the youngsters that we have coming through.

"It would be fantastic for players like Lee Croft (Manchester City), Luke Moore (Aston Villa), Dean Bowditch (Ipswich Town) and Steven Taylor to have the experience of playing in the World Youth Championships."