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Czech me out says Irons Euro star

PUBLISHED: 11:06 10 July 2008 | UPDATED: 13:26 05 October 2010

By JONATHAN CLEGG TEENAGE hotshot Freddie Sears gave West Ham fans a glimpse of his star potential last season. Now he is aiming to make an impression on a wider audience - by firing England to glory at this month s European Under-19 championships in the

By JONATHAN CLEGG

TEENAGE hotshot Freddie Sears gave West Ham fans a glimpse of his star potential last season.

Now he is aiming to make an impression on a wider audience - by firing England to glory at this month's European Under-19 championships in the Czech Republic.

Sears reported to pre-season training at West Ham this week but the 18-year-old will soon bid farewell to his club colleagues as he and team-mate James Tomkins link up with the Young Lions ahead of the tournament's opening game against the hosts in Liberec on Monday.

The West Ham striker played a key role in England's qualification for the finals, scoring a vital brace on his first full start for the national team in a 2-0 win against Poland in May.

The result helped Brian Eastick's side win the decisive Elite round qualifying tournament in Belarus and capped a remarkable season for Sears, who made his first-team breakthrough following a prolific campaign for the youth and reserve sides.

The Hornchurch youngster announced his arrival as a major new talent in memorable style, scoring the winning goal against Blackburn Rovers within six minutes of appearing as a substitute.

And Sears admits that he cannot wait to return to action next week - as he attempts to continue his rich vein of goalscoring form.

He said: "It's been unbelievable what has happened. To come into the team at West Ham and score a goal and then start playing a few games - I didn't really see it happening at the start of the season when I broke my ankle.

"It was a great way to end the season so it was a shame that it ended, but now we're going to the European championships it's like a way to end that season off and start the new season."

Sears and Tomkins face a tough challenge when they fly out to the eight-nation tournament, where they will also battle Italy and Greece in the hope of reaching the semi-finals.

But Sears is eager to test himself against the best young players in Europe and plans to use the experience to make him a better player for West Ham.

"Obviously you're going to see great players out there and Italy is the game that stands out in the group stage," said Sears.

"I think a few of the best players in the world have played at this tournament so it should be a high standard but whoever the team plays, we'll be trying to do a good job for England.

"We've been working hard [on fitness training], which is all good for getting back to pre-season.

"You've got to get some running under your belt and I think if we get to the final it will be five games, which will be good for us when we return to our clubs.

"[Alan Curbishley] spoke to me and Tomkins and said: 'Go away with England and do your best and then come back and be ready for the start of the season.'

"I will come back stronger and hopefully play more games [at West Ham] and see where it takes me.

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