VIDEO: Opportunity knocks says Pearce
Monday, 07 February, 2011
With players missing there's a chance to impress ahead of Euro 2011.
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England Under-21s Coach Stuart Pearce has told his players they have a chance to impress as they prepare to face Italy in Empoli on Tuesday afternoon.
Having seen nine players withdrawn from the squad named last week, as well as a number of regulars having already been ruled out due to injury, there's a fresh look to the Three Lions as they begin their final countdown to the summer's European Championship.
Pearce's side have possibly four games to prepare for their opening game in Denmark against Spain on 12 June, in what will be their third Finals campaign in succession, and Pearce knows that a lot can change between now and then.
"It's disappointing to lose a number of players. A Saturday night and Sunday are times when you're dreading phone calls, but the beauty is that come Monday you know the players you've got and you get on with it," Pearce told TheFA.com.
"It also gives other players the opportunity to play. If you're available to play then fantastic, but if you're not someone is always ready to come in and have a chance to impress."
He continued: "It will be competitive against Italy and this is what it's about now. It's one of our key games in the countdown to the summer.
"Our next competitive match in about four or five games time will against Spain in a really important group game, so we have to make sure we utilise these games as much as possible.
"We're playing a blue-chip nation, they'll have a lot of their younger players who will compete in the next Championship, and looking at the make up of our squad, we'll have a mix of young players too.
"It's going to be a difficult match but one we're looking forward too. We're ranked number one in Europe at the moment, so we have to play like that."
Pearce's side will be the only nation in Denmark this summer to have competed in three successive Under-21s tournaments, reaching the Semi-Final in 2007 and the Final two years ago. Because of that they will arrive there ranked as the number one nation in Europe.
But the former England defender will not be content until the consistent performances help bring home a trophy.
"The consistency level over the last four years has helped us achieve a ranking of number one in Europe," he said. "It's something the team should be proud of, not just the group of players here, but those who have been involved over the last few years.
"But we have to live up to that consistency and have to make sure that we put a performance on.
"It will be an added lift. We need to get our hands on a trophy, though. We've been in a Semi and in the Final, but we're in the trophies business and we have to add to the consistency and bring back some silverware.
"If we do that we can look back with the players and say, 'look, we've achieved something.' We're proud to be ranked where we are but we need to take it one step further."
He added: "It'll be an exciting tournament in the summer, and I think it'll go up another notch. It's a great experience and a great showcase for the players."
To watch the full interview watch the live stream of Italy v England from 1.45pm on Tuesday.
Frankie Fielding (Blackburn Rovers), Scott Loach (Watford), Jason Steele (Middlesbrough)
Joe Bennett (Middlesbrough), Ben Mee (Leicester City - loan from Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Barnsley - loan from Manchester City), Kyle Naughton (Leicester City - loan from Tottenham Hotspur)
Marc Albrighton (Aston Villa), Jack Cork (Burnley - loan from Chelsea), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Southampton), Henri Lansbury (Norwich City - loan from Arsenal), Fabrice Muamba (Bolton Wanderers), Jack Rodwell (Everton), Scott Sinclair (Swansea City), Josh McEachran (Chelsea), Jon Howson (Leeds United)
Nathan Delfouneso (Aston Villa), Jay Rodriguez (Burnley), James Vaughan (Crystal Palace - loan from Everton)