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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 11, 2009

Young Lions expect tough Dutch work-out

England Under-21 boss Stuart Pearce expects newcomers to his squad such as Jack Wilshere to be given a genuine test of their credentials on Tuesday night against Holland.

Pearce's youngsters reached the final of the European Championships this summer and 10 remain for the next campaign, with the friendly at Groningen's Euroborg Stadion part of the preparations.

"We're playing against one of the top-line nations in Europe," Pearce said.

"The good thing is over the last six months, we've taken on some big nations.

"This is going to be a very important game for us, we're starting again with a new group of players, a new campaign and straight after this game we're going to be in a situation where we're into five qualifiers in a short space of time."

They will play Macedonia twice, Greece, Lithuania and Portugal before Christmas, giving Pearce a chance to look at the likes of Wilshere.

Pearce has called up the 17-year-old following an injury to Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba ahead of the Holland clash.

Wilshere has been compared by Gunners boss Arsene Wenger to the talent of Wayne Rooney and the midfielder has been suggested as an outside bet to play in the World Cup with the seniors at the end of the season, with coach Fabio Capello monitoring his progress.

Pearce has already nurtured talent for Capello and hopes to do the same in the next campaign.

"Now we need to keep going forward and hopefully go one step further next time," Pearce.

"Ten of the players we took go again this time around. Two years ago we had maybe five or six players with that experience going into the new campaign.

"The mix of those going this time are very much in the defence and central area of midfield, more so than in the wide areas and up front, which in itself might cause a problem to us. But there will be players who have not made their mark yet at club level who will come through."

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