VIDEO: 'We've got our work cut out'
Friday, 08 October, 2010
Stuart Pearce acknowledges the task ahead for his Under-21s in Norwich.
England v Romania
UEFA European Under-21 Championship 2011
Play-Off First Leg
7.30pm, Friday 8 October 2010
Carrow Road, Norwich City FC
Tickets for the game have now sold out, but for fans who still want to see the game, it will be screened live on ESPN.
Click here to watch Stuart Pearce's press conference ahead of tonight's fixture.
Tonight in Norwich, England Under-21s go head-to-head with Romania in the first of two encounters that will determine who will be heading to Denmark for next summer’s UEFA European Championship.
For Coach Stuart Pearce, who has been in charge of the Three Lions at the last two Finals tournaments, a third successive tilt at a major trophy is his main goal after coming so close on the last two occasions.
In Holland in 2007, his side reached the semi-finals before bowing out to the hosts on penalties. Then in Sweden in 2009, they again faced the host in a semi-final shootout, but this time prevailed to set up a Final showdown with Germany. But on the night, a Mesut Ozil-inspired 4-0 defeat sent England home as runners-up.
But before Pearce and his team can even think of the summer, two difficult games lie ahead against a Romanian side that finished top of their qualifying group in style. The first leg at Carrow Road will be England’s chance to take a vital lead away to Botosani on Tuesday afternoon, when the play-off will be decided.
And Pearce is in no doubt about the size of the task and knows it could go either way.
“I would say it is a 50/50 swing in this game. They have won their group and we have finished runners-up,” he said as his team’s night in Norfolk draws closer.
“We feel they are going to be two very difficult matches for us. Romania are one of the strongest sides in Europe, so we know we have got our work cut out.
“We are improving as a side and getting better game by game. The spirit is getting better in the camp game by game as well. If we are fortunate to get through, then it gives us eight months to build for the Finals again, to nurture that team spirit and ability of the players.”
He continued: “Nothing will be decided Friday evening one way or another, that is for sure, so we know we have to do a professional job over two legs, so we will see.
“In the second leg, it might be an away goal scenario in extra-time, so that might just benefit the away team.”
And Pearce is hoping that an expected record attendance at Carrow Road since it became an all-seater stadium in 1992 will play a major part in the game and could give England a massive lift.
Over 25,500 tickets have been sold for the match, supporting The FA’s decision to bring such an important match for the Young Lions back to Norwich for the first time in three years.
“When we have come here before we have had crowds in excess of 20,000 and they have sold the stadium out for us, which is fantastic,” revealed Pearce.
“That is part of the reason we took the game to Norwich when we were hoping to be in the play-offs.
“With the crowd turning up like they will do on Friday night it will be fantastic for us and a great occasion for these players to play in. We’re really looking forward to it and hope that the support enjoy their night.
“We’ll need them to get behind us as much as possible, and hopefully we can get the result we’re looking for.”
For those fans not travelling to Carrow Road, the game will be live on ESPN. Supporters with tickets are advised to arrive with plenty of time to avoid traffic congestion and queues at the turnstiles.