VIDEO: Pearce focused on the future
Tuesday, 16 November, 2010
U21s Coach is looking forward to Germany clash and beyond...
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Click here to watch the full interview with Stuart Pearce
When Stuart Pearce’s team line-up against old rivals Germany on Tuesday, it would be easy to look back on history to be inspired.
As the team begin their seven-month preparation campaign for next summer’s European Championship with a friendly in Wiesbaden on Tuesday (5pm GMT kick-off live on FATV), Pearce is keen to focus on what lies ahead.
Memories of two semi-final defeats as a players and the 4-0 loss to Germany in the Final of Euro 2009 may still linger, but the Coach is just looking forward as he prepares his side for Denmark.
He’s been impressed with the team spirit amongst the players that has seen them come back from their disappointing 2-1 reversal to Greece in March to get through four tough games this season and reach the Finals for a third successive time.
“It was a disappointing day [The Final] and when we look back it cost us having three top-liners who had played a really big part in us getting there suspended from the Final. It threw the balance against us.
“But this will stand alone and perhaps give us an insight into the future of what might be coming up in maybe a year’s time.
“It’s our first game in our preparations for next summer. One or two individuals will have a chance to stake a claim for a place in the squad for the Championship.”
He continued: “The team has galvanised itself and the camaraderie in the dressing room has been excellent. They enjoy coming away and being around the Under-21s scene.
“When push comes to shove on the pitch and you go into difficult games, often team spirit plays a bit part and it’s something you have to call-upon to get you through. We feel as though we have that in the dressing room at the moment.”
And adding to the squad mix, Pearce has also called up two 17-year-olds who have been making their mark in the younger England age groups and are beginning to make the breakthrough at club level too.
Josh McEachran has feature nine times this season for Chelsea and Connor Wickham, who made his debut for Ipswich at 16, has 45 appearances for the Championship side to his name.
The pair were also important figures in the victorious England U17s side who lifted the European Championship crown earlier this year.
“I’ve been impressed with them,” said Pearce. “Anyone who can get on the bench at Chelsea has to be respected. Conor Wickham has joined up with us too, so there’ll be one or two youngster who will get the opportunity.”
And Pearce is happy to welcome back Everton midfielder Jack Rodwell to the fold after missing the last four games with an ankle injury.
“Jack’s a great member of the squad, he’s a smashing kid and very passionate about playing for England. I saw Jack as soon as I started in this job at the Nordic Tournament when he was just a 16-year-old boy. I’ve followed him along so to have him back in the squad after injury is good for us.
“This is also where we back the clubs up. I had a phone call with David Moyes last week about Jack being available. He’s coming back and has only played 45 minutes for Everton, so he’ll be a little bit light on fitness and match play.
“But if we can back that up and get his fitness improving and send him back to Everton a bit further along the fitness line, he might be up for grabs to play for Everton on Saturday.”
And with the game against Germany live on FATV on Tuesday evening, Pearce had a message for fans yet to see the Under-21s in action and who would like to cheer the team on towards the Finals next summer.
“I certainly think we’re worth following,” he said. “It’s going to be quite a young side, but it’s going to be a good fixture. We’re building for the summer and beyond, but England v Germany is one of the those fixtures that excites you.
“Some of my best memories at international level have been against Germany. I think that will apply to our younger players as well.
He added: “One thing we will do is go back for a third time – we’re very proud of that record – with a lot of experience of tournament football. I know for one I’ll be a more experienced coach.
“The lads who have been before will hopefully put the message out that not only it’ll be a great tournament, but we might be successful and you might enjoy the summer with the Under-21s.”
You can follow England Under-21s during the build-up and throughout next summer's Finals right here on TheFA.com and also at www.facebook.com/EnglandU21s.