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50-50: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Champions League 1 day ago
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By ESPN Staff
Feb 23, 2012

Pearce explains Ox omission

England caretaker boss Stuart Pearce has defended his decision to leave Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out of his squad to face Holland next week.

With Pearce tipped to unveil a youthful group of players, Oxlade-Chamberlain was touted as one likely to be elevated to senior ranks. However, whilst Pearce did leave out experienced stars Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand and included plenty of young players, the only new face turned out to be Sunderland forward Fraizer Campbell.

As he is doubling up as Under-21 manager, Pearce feels the 18-year-old will benefit from more competitive game time at a lower level, where England will take on Belgium at the Riverside next Wednesday.

''I could have brought him into the seniors, played him for 10 minutes and there would have been a body of opinion that said he had bypassed the Under-21s and should never play for them again,'' he said. ''If we keep doing that then we will never win at that age group.

''Alex has done extremely well for the Under-21s. He might well be the best player for the Under-21s at this moment in time. But the experience he gets from playing 90 minutes in a qualifying match will serve him much better than being elevated into the seniors and having a 10-minute cameo role here.''

It may also be well into next week before he decides who will inherit the captain's armband from John Terry. The smart money is on Steven Gerrard, skipper during the last World Cup and one of the few players to shine.

However, the Liverpool midfielder has not featured in the national side since November 2010 and Pearce threw in an unexpected name as he assessed what qualities he will be looking for when his squad assembled in Watford on Sunday evening.

''Just over a year ago I was asked to give a talk about leadership to the troops in Afghanistan,'' he said. ''On the trip over there I thought 'How do I approach this? What key element do I believe would be fundamental in a leader?'

''The one word I could come up with was unselfish. Your team-mates have to know you're in this for their greater good, rather than your own. I will attempt to pick a captain who I believe has that sort of respect in the other players' eyes - someone for whom the team mattered a hell of a lot.

''I see that in the James Milners of this world - they are team players. That's the one fundamental that all leaders have.''

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