Stuart Pearce is pleased to have extended time with Under-21 squad.
Norway v England
5.30pm (GMT), Friday 27 March 2009
Komplett.no Arena, Sandefjord
England v France
8pm, Tuesday 31 March 2009
The City Ground, Nottingham Forest FC
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Stuart Pearce believes that having his Under-21 squad for two games and a prolonged spell together could prove to be a big advantage ahead of this summer’s European Championship.
The Lions travel to Norway for a friendly on Friday evening before returning to England for a game with France at Nottingham Forest’s City Ground next Tuesday and Pearce has had the players at his disposal all week as they prepare.
As well as receiving the benefit of more training sessions and bonding time together, the squad were also spoken to by Premier League and UEFA referee Howard Webb, who gave them advice on what to expect during June’s Finals in Sweden.
"To get the players for eight, nine or ten days at international level is fantastic,” revealed Pearce, speaking at an event at Fernwood School in the Wollaton area of Nottingham.
"We're able to work a fair bit on the training pitch and we've also had Howard Webb in to put a presentation on that will be helpful to us going into the tournament in the summer.
"We now have two tough games as well.”
With England’s group in the Euros containing Finland, Germany and Spain, Pearce feels that the two games lined up for his team will be good preparation.
“We needed an away game, so that's important and playing Norway is big for us,” he added.
“It’s in a Scandinavian country, like Sweden, where we're going in the summer and then France at home after that is as good as you're going to get internationally, too.”
It also promises to be an emotional return to the City Ground for Pearce, as he spent the vast majority of his playing career as captain of Forest and remains a popular figure there.
“I’m especially looking forward to going back to Nottingham Forest, both for myself and Steve Wigley,” he revealed.
"We still have a lot of good friends at the club and in the city.”