Pearce pleased with outcome
Sunday, 05 June, 2011
England coach happy with win and players' fitness ahead of Euros.
Stuart Pearce was pleased with victory in England Under-21s final Euro 2011 preparation match against Norway in Southampton but also believes his team can step up a gear when they arrive in Denmark.
The Three Lions head to the UEFA European Championship on Wednesday and face Spain in their opening fixture in Herning next Sunday, so with a confidence-boosting win behind them they will travel filled with hope of success.
Daniel Sturridge and Danny Rose both found the back of the net in the first half during a game that England largely dominated, while 18 of the 23-man squad going to Denmark figured.
And the former England defender was also happy that his players came through the match unscathed and he will now look to his team selection for the tournament's kick-off.
"If we wound the clock back a week and I was offered the week we had on the training pitch, that the players have given me, a 2-0 victory and no injuries, I would snap your hand off," Pearce said after the game.
"I would have preferred a better performance - I don't think we played as well as we can. We could have passed the ball a lot better, and Norway - credit to them - banked up and made it difficult. We gave the ball away cheaply, certainly in the first half, and we could have put the ball in their net a couple more times. But, we'll take the good bits out of it, and the whole week in general out of it.
"The last friendly before a major tournament, it plays on the players' minds. I think it's better when the chips are down and that'll be the case next Sunday.
"I'll let this game settle, have a look at it over a couple of days and have a look at what I see on the training pitch between now and Sunday, with a mind to the opposition as well and I'll put a team on the pitch that I think can win the game."
Pearce was in charge of the Under-21s when they reached the European Championship semi-final in 2007 and the Final two years ago. This time around he has determined to go one better a lift the silverware in Aarhus on 25 June, but knows his team's preparation must be spot on.
After taking on Spain next Sunday, they also meet Ukraine and Czech Republic in what Pearce believes is a difficult group, yet he says that the mentality of his players can help them reach their aim.
"We've got to hit the ground running, in any tournament you've got to do that. I've seen enough on the training pitch to know that we can play better than today, and the players know that, so we don't kid ourselves in any respect there," continued Pearce.
"I saw a lot of good things today, and there's a lot of players that want to come in, and if we're going to get over the finish line in two or three weeks time, then all 23 have got to contribute to that cause.
"I'm very excited to work with this group because there's a fantastic camaraderie about them and a real willingness to want to learn."
He added: "The preparation has been nigh on identical [to 2009] and I have been delighted with their standard of training. I think this group can get better and better and there have been a lot of players who have come to the party, and collectively they have as well. The team that starts the tournament might not be as good as the team that finishes the tournament.
"Whenever we take any opposition on - and bear in mind I come from the school of Brian Clough - we're fresher than they are. That is always the mantra we work to. The players have had a decent break, a week or so off, and when you look at the opposition next week you might even see they've played more games than us.
"Mentally we're fresh and that's where it springs from - if you're mentally fresh you'll convince your body to do anything."
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