BOYCE DESERVES A CALL-UP

RICKY HILL believes Hatters defender Emmerson Boyce should be an automatic choice for the next England under-21 squad.

RICKY HILL believes Hatters defender Emmerson Boyce should be an automatic choice for the next England under-21 squad.RICKY HILL believes Hatters defender Emmerson Boyce should be an automatic choice for the next England under-21 squad.

Scouts for the national team have watched Boyce recently and Luton boss Hill knows the 20-year-old centre-back would not let his country down.

But first Boyce will be looking to make a big impression next Tuesday night when he will be charged with the responsibility of stopping England striker Kevin Phillips.

The Hatters have drawn Premiership Sunderland in the second round of the Worthington Cup and Hill is ready to entrust Boyce with a man-marking job on Phillips during Tuesday night s first leg at the Stadium of Light.

Hill said: "Ideally it will be Emmerson Boyce on Kevin Phillips and Julian Watts on Niall Quinn whenever possible, but in and around the box there s not always time to look for your man and it s who is nearest.

"Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn are talented players but human beings.

"Emmerson and our other defenders are also good at their jobs. Sunderland will be the acid test for Emmerson and all our players. It will be great for him to play against Phillips and Quinn.

Hopefully Emmerson will stay fit. He s had knocks on both ankles and played through that discomfort to maintain his high standards.

"It s vital we defend as a team up there. You can get away with lapses in Division Two but one lapse could be vital at Sunderland."

About Boyce s chances of an international call-up, Hill added: "I did not have to recommend him. They had him watched at Wycombe.

"If they d gone to any of our games they would have been pleased with what they had seen and, in my opinion, he should be an automatic member of the squad. He s an outstanding defender and person."