VIDEO: Pearce excited by squad
by Jamie Bradbury
Wednesday, 23 March, 2011
Under-21s coach says there is competition for places in the final 23.
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Stuart Pearce has been enjoying his week with the Under-21s as he begins to get a picture in his mind of what his final 23-man squad will look like this summer.
Having had chance to train and coach his players three times so far this get-together, the party have left for Denmark for a friendly match which will see them take on the Euro 2011 hosts at one of their venues for the Finals.
Pearce’s men are in Viborg on Thursday afternoon for one of two preparation matches against other tournament hopefuls this week, a match that can be seen live on FATV, and the former England left-back is excited by what he’s seen.
He’s also had a chance this week to speak to all the players in the frame for a spot in the European Championship squad, including those who aren’t available to him this week due to injury or senior team selection, and look ahead at what’s in store in June.
“We brought all the players together and had a good chance to speak to them all and outline what the plans are for the summer,” he told FATV (click to watch the full interview). “To see the depth of talent that we’ve got sat in one room is quite staggering.
“We have a wealth of quality. I was just speaking to Malky Mackay, the Watford manager, at training and he said ‘You’ve got some players here’, and I feel very fortunate to be able to coach them. These are the best in England, the best we’ve got at this age group – bar a few injuries and the couple we have in the seniors. It’s a really exciting group and they are capable of anything."
He continued: “The contact time with the team this week is good. We’ve got a good ten days with the players and we’ll learn a lot more about them as a team and individually. It’s my last chance to have a look at them and get in my mind which 23 we’re going to go with in the summer.
“Competition for places is fantastic, not just to get in the team but to get in the squad of 23. Since I’ve been in here my first criteria was to galvanize a team-ethic in the Under-21s and not just to have it as a stand-alone fixture once a month. I think we’ve gone a long way. There’s a great camaraderie between these players and in they’ve enjoyed their time with the Under-21s”.
On Monday the Three Lions meet Iceland at Preston North End (click here for ticket details), but before that take on the Danes at the Viborg Stadium, where England will face Czech Republic in their last group game on 19 June.
Pearce says that this gives his side even more to think about and understand before the tournament kicks off.
“We tried to play Sweden in the build up to the last Championship with a view to leaving no stone unturned in the preparation. We’ve been fortunate enough to get an away fixture in Denmark at one of the venues we’re going to play at.
“Playing Denmark, and Iceland, in two fixtures this week – both teams have qualified albeit in the other group –will be interesting to see what the competition is like if we’re good enough to get out of our group.
“Both the venue and opposition will be good for us and will probably give our players a slight indication of what’s ahead of them in the summer. “
Tickets for the match against Iceland are still available priced at £10 for adults and £5 for children and are available from the ticket office at Deepdale, over the phone on 0844 856 1966 and online at www.mypne.com .