Josh McEachran made his starting debut for England U21’s in a friendly defeat to Italy yesterday.

The 17 year old academy graduate played 82 minutes of the fixture and grew in influence and stature as the game progressed, showing glimpses of his remarkable talent that has Chelsea fans so enthralled.

Stuart Pearce, the Young Lions boss held high praise for the Blues star saying: “Chelsea think extremely highly of him [McEachran] and you can see why. He’s got the ability and the vision that you know, if players run off of him, he’s got the ability to find them with passes.”

With McEachran’s involvment with the U21’s so far limited to a short cameo in a defeat to Germany last year and with his inclusion in the squad this time out owing to a number of late withdrawls, Pearce revealed that the Blues midfielder certainly seized his opportunity when the time came and is set for further development at a new level.

“All of our cutting passes probably came from him. He’s got a really outstanding talent, similar to [Jack] Wilshere, and it bodes well for us. He’s come in and played outstandingly well so if he is going to start for me then he will be in the Under-21 squad from now on. If I feel as though he is going to come in and be a squad player, then there’s no need and he will stay with the Under-19s and play football,” he said.

For the senior side, Frank Lampard has given the captains armband for England’s friendly against Denmark in Copenhagen tonight.

This will be he first occasion that Lampard has skippered the England side and the influential Blues midfielder revealed his pride at receiving the news: ‘It’s quite unexpected but I am a very proud man,’

‘I have been in the squad for a very long time now and I have waited patiently and it could be one of the proudest moments of my career to lead out the boys.

‘I did have it [the armband] in a second half in Steve McClaren’s reign but to actually walk the team out is a big deal. You grow up dreaming of that moment and this one has been thrust upon me.’

Whilst many fan’s, managers and journalists have bemoaned the decision to schedule an international friendly during such a busy and turbulent period in the season, there are few Chelsea fan’s who would want to deny ‘Super Frank’ the chance to lead out an England side for the first time.

Lampard has often been singled out unfairly by many quarters of the so-called ‘England Fans’ brigade. Ofter derided and subjected to vocal abuse, which is simply baffling when Lampard has for so long now been one of England’s most consistent performers, scoring important goals and has always been a positive and popular influence in the dressing room. Perhaps now he will finally get some of the respect that he is due.

Another Chelsea star who is often the subject of misjudged abuse from rival fans is left back Ashely Cole who has been voted as ‘England Player of the Year’ in a poll by fans, professionals and pundits. It is high praise for a supremely talented and hardworking footballer who has never refused England’s call or shied away from the spotlight during difficult moments.

Whilst the World Cup campaign in South Africa was disappointing to the point of exhaustion and with few senior players returning with their reputations intact, Cole stood out as a consistent and grounded performer and looks set to go on and surpass David Beckham and Peter Shilton as England’s most capped player. A high accolade for a deserving footballer.

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