Gabriel Agbonlahor's stunning start to the season is set to earn him a first England Under-21 cap after he stated his intention to play for his country of birth rather than Nigeria or Scotland.

The 19-year-old forward, who has scored in his last two Aston Villa games, is eligible to play for three countries but has revealed his determination to play for England, encouraged by his Nigerian father Samson.

"I can play for Scotland as well because my mum's Scottish. My Dad wants me play-ing for England first, because that's where I was brought up," said Agbonlahor.

"If I didn't get the choice for England, then he would have wanted me playing for Nigeria, but England is No 1."

Under-21s manager Peter Taylor, who is in charge until Steve McClaren finds a full-time successor, has been impressed with Agbonlahor ahead of the play-off with Germany for a place in next year's European Champion-ship finals.

"I made my mind up quite a few weeks ago that he would be in the squad," said Crystal Palace boss Taylor.

"He's had a terrific start to the season and can play wide right, wide left or down the middle.

"He's very handy, a very confident lad who is quite rightly enjoying his season. I'm sure he's going to play an important part. I've got the option of playing three in attack or two, and he fits into that."

Agbonlahor, whose idols include Ian Wright and Tony Daley, has caught the eye under new Villa boss Martin O'Neill after spending loan spells away from the West Midlands last season.

"Football has its up and downs. Last season I had a more downs than ups at Wat-ford and Sheffield Wednesday, so it's been exciting for me," Agbonlahor added.

"I came back and got the chance at Villa. Martin O'Neill can take a lot of the credit, he gave everyone a chance in pre-season, picked me in his first game and has had faith in me."

Agbonlahor will be looking for a positive result in tonight's play-off first leg against Germany at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry, with the return leg on Tuesday in Leverkusen.

England were knocked out at the same stage in the last campaign, with a Franck Ribery-inspired France going through over two legs.

Taylor believes Arsenal teenager Theo Walcott could follow the example of Ribery and prove to be the difference in a what is expected to be a tight game.

"He's played two games for us and has scored two goals - the second was a goal of real quality," Taylor said.

"He's capable, he looks an outstanding lad and has mixed in very quickly - all the other lads like him.

"He looks incredibly quick and strong, so he has a great chance. As a lad, I haven't been surprised. It's nice to work with someone of that ability."

Taylor may not be in charge for the finals if England make it past Germany - who they drew with twice in their last campaign - although he has previously stated he would want to take the team there if they qualified.

"We do have so many good young players that we have to scout and we're at the level where we need a full-time guy," said Ray Wilkins, who is among the Under-21 backroom staff.

"Peter is tied up a bit with Palace but, if we qualify, then we'll see what happens.

"I think the players are playing for him because they have a lovely relationship with him."

Villa defender Peter Whittingham added: "He always brings a bit of fun to training, so it's work but, it if you have a laugh, then it's even better. Gabriel Agbonlahor's performances in an Aston Villa shirt have drawn acclaim from Under-21s manager Peter Taylor