Walcott impresses as Under-21s labour in draw

August 16, 2006

Peter Taylor believes Theo Walcott showed enough on his under-21 debut to give England fans cause for optimism.

Walcott has not played in pre-season after picking up a virus since returning from the World Cup but he took just three minutes to open the scoring against Moldova at Portman Road on his under-21 bow last night.

The 17-year-old's substitution after 66 minutes sparked a glut of goals in the final 15 minutes of the European Championship qualifier, with the visitors picking up a valuable point with the 2-2 draw.

Despite England's qualification for next year's finals now in the balance, Walcott's performance impressed Taylor.

'I'm sure he enjoyed himself, to score very early is a bonus,' Taylor said. 'He's played no matches, so the way he played for an hour is tremendous.'

'I spoke to (Arsenal boss) Arsene Wenger this morning and I always knew and hour would be enough for him as it is his first game.

'I thought if we played better as a team he would have looked better, we would have kept possession and got him into better areas. Unfortunately we kept giving the ball away and didn't set up enough attacks.'

Moldova looked threatening on the counter-attack after Walcott's header opened the scoring.

After Walcott's departure, the visitors levelled through Serghei Alexeev's chip before David Nugent restored the lead. Substitute Alexandr Zislis denied the hosts victory, though, levelling for a second time after coming on as a substitute.

Taylor added: 'We had a good start and I thought we were going to go on from there, but the players looked a bit rusty. The players who looked the best were the ones who had enough matches in pre-season.

'Some had only a few matches and in Theo Walcott's case no matches. So Moldova must have been very happy with the date of the game.'

Taylor was impressed with the visitors' performance and hopes they can trouble Switzerland, England's other opponents in the group.

He added: 'I thought they were an excellent team, and that's a typical situation of us not taking other teams into account. They played some excellent football and will cause Switzerland some problems.'