Back in training
by Jamie Bradbury
Monday, 21 March, 2011
Stuart Pearce's team were back in action on Monday.
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See England's next home game against Iceland in Preston on 28 March
England’s Under-21s were back in training on Monday for the first time this year and looked sharp as they prepare for two friendly internationals in the next week.
Click here to watch the action from today's session
On Monday 28 March, Stuart Pearce’s side take on Iceland at Preston North End, but before that they travel to Denmark for a game in Viborg on Thursday.
The Danes host this summer’s UEFA European Under-21s Championship, with Viborg one of England’s group stage venues, while Iceland are also in the Finals for the first time.
The games, along with an eight-day get-together with his players, will give Pearce a good idea of what to expect when the tournament starts and a chance to assess his team, even though both nations are in the other group. Meanwhile, the players themselves will have the opportunity to impress the coach as they aim to secure a place on the plane in June.
And the first session of the week started brightly, not least with the sun beaming down on the Three Lions at their London Colney base.
20 players in total trained, including Connor Wickham and Josh McEachran, two 18-year-olds who were part of England's UEFA U17s Championship winning team last year. Those who were in action for their clubs on Sunday stayed behind to go through a light warm-down in the pool back at the team hotel.
Aston Villa's on-loan right-back Kyle Walker, who on Sunday was called into Fabio Capello’s squad, remained with the Under-21s on Monday and was lively in training, scoring a thunderbolt past Reading’s Alex McCarthy in the small-sided match at the end (check out the video here). He later headed to meet up with the senior set-up.
Despite England having played last month, Monday’s action at the Watford Training Ground was the first time since November visit to Germany that Pearce and his coaches Steve Wigley, Brian Eastick and Martin Thomas were able to take the England players in training.
The trip to Empoli in February was beset with problems with bad weather in Tuscany causing the team’s plane to be diverted, schedules to be re-arranged and subsequently their session planned for the day before their 1-0 defeat to Italy was abandoned.
With six training sessions and two matches, Pearce hopes to get more out of the next eight days as he looks to focus on his final preparations before the summer.
“I could go on about the last get together not being great. The travelling problems we encountered on the way to Italy meant we couldn’t train as a squad, but we don’t like making excuses,” Pearce told TheFA.com.
“The attitude of the players and staff was exemplary under tricky conditions. Everyone just got on with what they had to do.
“We always play better when we have a longer window together. We have the opportunity to get to know the players that little bit better and we become a much more organised outfit when we have time with the players.
“It’s great to be out there on the pitch with the players, that’s where we can really make an impact. At international level you only have each the players once a month if you are lucky, so this is this is the best chance to have contact with the players.”
Tickets for England's game at Deepdale against Iceland on Monday 28 March are available online for just £5 for kids and £10 for adults. Visit www.MyPNE.com