England U21s coach wants his players to come out firing against Norway on Saturday
England v Norway
UEFA European Under-21 Championship
Group A Match
5pm, Saturday 8 June 2013
Ha Moshava Stadium, Petah Tikva
Live on Sky Sports 2 and Sky Sports 2HD
Stuart Pearce was pulling no punches in his assessment of England Under-21s' opening day defeat, but knows his side are capable of stepping up a level.
Italy dominated Wednesday’s game in Tel Aviv and, even though England had two goals ruled out early in the second half, Pearce was realistic when he spoke to TheFA.com the day after the match.
A late free-kick gave Italy victory and put them in charge of Group A, but the Three Lions Coach believes his side can rise to the challenge with victory against Norway on Saturday almost a must.
“Certainly we’re disappointed, it was a really poor performance from us and it’s no point dressing it up and suggesting it wasn’t,” admitted Pearce.
“I have to look at it and maybe the nerves of the first game we didn’t play as well as we have been. We’ve been playing some outstanding football coming into the tournament.
“Getting that first game under our belt will only serve us well. We’re in a knock-out situation now and have to win a game at the weekend.”
He added: “You have to draw a line under things. The mentality of the squad and the staff is vitally important. You can’t afford to dwell on a result that has gone against you; it serves no purpose to sulk.
“There were some disappointed people in the group, both in the coaching area and certainly the players because we know we didn’t perform to our full potential.
“But we’ll come out firing at the weekend and the one thing this squad has is guts and togetherness. We’ll come out of this and be better for it.”
Pearce knows more than most what is required from major international tournaments after playing in World Cup and European Championship semi-finals for at senior level and guiding the Under-21s in four consecutive Finals.
He was buoyed by the reaction of his players, particularly those involved in Thursday morning’s training session in Netanya, and is pleased to be able to have Tom Ince and Danny Rose back from suspension.
And with Wilfried Zaha also taking part in training, Pearce is hopeful the Manchester United star is available for selection against the Norwegians.
The only player in the 23-man squad who is likely to remain out of the reckoning is Nottingham Forest midfielder Henri Lansbury, who picked up a slight groin strain in training earlier this week.
“I went down to training with the non-starters, as I usually do, and their tails were up,” Pearce revealed. “They trained fantastically well and they’re saying ‘if you need us, we’re ready’ and that’s fantastic to see.
“We’ve also got Incey and Rosey back from suspension, and possibly Wilfried Zaha from his injury, so that will give us a lift in itself.”
He added: “We’re in a situation now where we know we’ve probably got to beat Norway at the weekend, but we’re more than capable of doing that.
“It’ll be a tough game, Norway are a good side, well-organised, dogged. It should be a fantastic spectacle”
You can keep updated with us inside the camp, here on TheFA.com, via Twitter @FA or the official England Facebook page...