Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pearce in England U21 admission

By Nigel Adderley, Sports News Correspondent
BBC Radio 5 Live in Colchester

Stuart Pearce
Pearce's England Under-21 side are through to the play-offs

England Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce has conceded his team will need to improve to reach next year's European Championship finals in Denmark.

England squeezed into the play-offs with a 3-0 victory over Lithuania in Colchester on Tuesday night.

Pearce also feels he should introduce young players into the squad sooner to quicken their international exposure.

"We have to improve on our performances but I think we're getting better and better," Pearce told BBC Radio 5 Live.

Two goals from Sunderland's on-loan forward Danny Welbeck and a first international strike for Marc Albrighton of Aston Villa settled England's nerves after a goalless first hour and put them into Friday's draw as one of the best runners-up, as other nations across Europe dropped points.

In total, 14 nations qualified for the play-offs, with 10 group winners and four runners-up making it through.


The seven winners of the play-offs will join hosts Denmark in the finals next year.

"When you need results to go for you elsewhere that puts the pressure on," said Pearce, whose side finished second in Group Nine.

"I've never been involved in a situation where the mathematics were so awkward to understand - it was ridiculous at times to be honest with you - but if we can give the players that experience of playing in that then that's good."

England could draw Scotland in a two-leg play-off to decide who progresses to next summer's finals after the Scots secured a dramatic 2-1 victory over Austria Under-21s at Aberdeen.

Major nations such as European champions Germany and France have not even reached this stage and Pearce believes he can learn lessons from their failures and the problems his team has had in qualification.

"The experience these players would get from being at a major tournament would be fantastic but a number of teams who reached the last finals have found themselves under pressure and I think some of that is down to preparation time," added Pearce.

"Other nations have got time to bed their players in but it has taken me the best part of a year to get to know this group a little bit more.

"I think I've learned a lesson which will help me in the future - hopefully we'll make another major tournament and hopefully I'll have to blood one or two youngsters to help prepare the team for what happens after that."

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