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Oct 14, 2008

Pearce wants Walcott as England U21 qualify

Midfielder James Milner believes England can now go on to win the UEFA European Under-21 Championship after qualifying for the finals.

England drew 2-2 with Wales in the second leg of their play-off match at Villa Park to book a place in the tournament in Sweden next summer with a 5-4 aggregate success.

The hosts had to hold on after having Tom Huddlestone sent off in the second half and Milner felt the players could be proud of their efforts.

The Aston Villa player told Setanta Sports: "They are a quality team and they made it difficult for us, we knew they would.

"It is disappointing on our part, the goals we have conceded in the two games, it is not like us and that is something to learn from.

"This is a tough wake-up call to show that there is still improvement to be done.

"It was a great performance from the boys, though. It was tough losing a man but we stuck at it and made sure we didn't concede (again).

"It was a great performance to get through and I think we have shown over the group game and these play-off that we have got all you need to hopefully go on and win it."

Manager Stuart Pearce admitted he wanted to take Theo Walcott to next year's finals.

The Arsenal forward has become an established member of Fabio Capello's senior squad but Pearce would like it if he dropped back down the Under-21s.

When asked if he hoped to take Walcott, Pearce said "Of course. Theo has played seven matches in getting us here.

"But I want to talk about the collective of everybody who has played for the Under-21s.

"They have got a fantastic collective between themselves."

Pearce admitted it had been a tense time and was relieved to have qualified.

"We're through," continued the former England defender. "We knew it was going to be two really tough games.

"I think we showed with the spirit and the courage the English team have got why Wales did not want to play us and why we didn't want to play Wales.

"I think it's a shame we are not both going.

"We've got the finals to look forward to.

"We feel we are improving, we are getting better."

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