Ability will count for England in Doncaster
Tuesday, 02 March, 2010
'Game of the season' against Greece awaits the Under-21s at the Keepmoat.
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England Under-21s were welcomed to the Keepmoat Stadium for their penultimate training session before Wednesday’s vital Euro 2011 qualifier by players from Doncaster Deaf College team.
Stuart Pearce’s men shock hands and signed autographs for the youngsters, who compete in the Sheffield & Hallamshire Ability Counts League, before showing them just what they can expect from the match during their session on the pitch.
It was a bright, sunny day in Doncaster, but Pearce and coaches Steve Wigley and Brian Eastick put the players through their paces with their clash with Greece firmly in their thoughts.
England trail their Greek rivals by two points in Group Nine, but victory would see the Three Lions leapfrog them into first, with a game in hand. It would also see England go into a six-month break in the driving seat for a place in the play-offs, with the final round of games not until September.
“The is the game of the season and the most important match without a doubt,” said Pearce following the session.
“It puts us in a really strong position if we win it. If we don’t then it puts us in a very weak position having to win our last two games, with one of those away in Portugal, so it’s all to play for.”
He continued: “Since I’ve taken over this team, when we play to our best we seem to win, I think we’re a very difficult side to play against. I’m very confident in the group I have to work with, there’s good competition for places and some very talented players.”
Pearce was pleased to be have his full squad available for the session, after the withdrawal of Danny Welbeck on Monday, though goalkeeper Frankie Fielding returned to his club Rochdale, where he plays in their League game against Rotherham on Tuesday night.
And the Coach also believes that his players are not only playing for a place at Euro 2011 in Denmark, but the chance to impress and maybe one day make the step into the Senior Team.
“We’ve just got Danny missing, he never met up with us, but all the rest are fully fit,” he revealed.
“Anyone who is in this squad should have half an eye on putting in a performance to give myself and Fabio a jolt and say ‘maybe we’re ready’. That’s what an Under-21s side is all about.
“When I look at the Senior squad for tomorrow night we’ve got Ryan Shawcross, Milner, Agbonlahor, Hart, Baines all who have been through the Under-21s. That should be a spur to anyone who is currently in the Under-21s.”
Meanwhile, Christopher Bly, Senior Football Development Officer from Sheffield & Hallamshire FA, thanked Pearce for the chance to watch the session at the Keepmoat.
"This experience is a reward for all the players’ hard work this season," he said. "They have been exceptional in all League sessions and have helped to build the reputation and quality of the League.
"Sheffield & Hallamshire are looking to further develop and grow the League so there are more opportunities for pan disability players to play football, and are working towards achieving their Charter Standard League status."
Tickets for this game remain on sale at just £10 for adults and £5 for concessions (under 16 and over 60) and can be booked via the Keepmoat Stadium ticket hotline on 01302 762 576.
The match kicks off at the earlier time of 6pm prior to the England senior team’s 8pm fixture with Egypt at Wembley and will also be screened live on ESPN.