Leeds comeback for Carson and Milner
By PAUL DEWS
FORMER Leeds United youngsters James Milner and Scott Carson are set to return to their Elland Road roots on Friday.
The duo will line up in Peter Taylor's England Under-21s side for the crucial European Championship qualifying clash against Austria at Leeds.
England currently share pole position in Group Six with Germany, and victory against Austria would be a massive step towards qualification.
The top two sides in each of the eight groups will meet in a two-legged play-off next month with the eight winners progressing throught to the finals next May.
United boss Kevin Blackwell will be among the spectators at Elland Road on Friday and is hoping the Leeds public will put on a strong show of support for the international youngsters.
"Peter Taylor has assembled a very talented squad and they've proven with their performances already that they can secure a winning conclusion to their qualifying group," said Blackwell.
"England will be coming into this game with a lot of confidence and,
hopefully, the Leeds crowd will rise to the occasion."
While the presence of Milner and Carson will ensure a Leeds connection, United's own Under-21s duo have missed out on selection on their home ground.
Left-back Dan Harding has failed to break back onto the international scene after losing his place at Elland Road, while Kilgallon has yet to start a United game this season and hasn't featured for the Under-21s since earlier this year.
But York-born Kilgallon is still relishing the prospect seeing England on Leeds soil.
"This is going to be a huge fixture for England and Leeds," said Kilgallon. "The atmosphere at Elland Road should be amazing and hopefully Yorkshire's England fans will turn out in force."
Taylor has called up two players for the first time – Manchester City's Chinedum Onuoha and Jerome Thomas of Charlton Athletic.
Onuoha played his first match for England at any level for the Under-20s in their 2-0 win over Russia at The Valley and Taylor says that he deserves his chance at this level after playing consistently well for the Eastlands club.
"I saw him play for City in the Carling Cup against Doncaster and though they got beaten that was the first time I saw him live," said Taylor.
"I was very impressed and at his age he is only going to get better and I am delighted to have him on-board.
"He looks confident, he is the right size and he clearly has a lot of ability so hopefully he'll come into the squad, enjoy it and do well."
Thomas has also earned a first chance to shine with the Under-21s and the call-up comes after the left-winger's long run of good form in the Addicks' first team.
Taylor said: "I've followed him ever since he was at Arsenal and then through his loan spell at QPR – in fact he was a player I was always keen on getting on-loan. It's nice bringing in new players like Nedum and Jerome. It is great seeing players come through the youth development system."
England's games are the final two in the qualifying group and they know that only the best will do if they are to secure themselves top spot and a favourable draw in November's final play-offs.
Tickets to see England in action at Elland Road are on sale now from Leeds United ticket services or by calling 0845 121 1992. Tickets are priced at just 10 adults and 5 children/concessions.