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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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By ESPN Staff

Pearce releases five players

England Under-21 manager Stuart Pearce has allowed five players to return to their Premier League clubs.

Sunderland duo Jordan Henderson and Danny Welbeck, Manchester United's Chris Smalling and Bolton pair Fabrice Muamba and Daniel Sturridge, who all played in the 4-0 defeat of Denmark in Viborg on Tuesday, will miss the friendly against Iceland at Deepdale on Monday night.

Manchester City's Micah Richards will also be missing following the hamstring injury he picked up in the Denmark game.

The FA also announced on Saturday that Pearce's team will face Norway in Southampton on June 5 for their final friendly ahead of the European Under-21 Championship in Denmark this summer.

Meanwhile, Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley, currently on loan at Wigan, believes England Under-21 can come out on top in the tournament.

"From day one of our qualification process we've known what we have wanted to do and that is win the competition this summer," Cleverley said at a Tesco Soccer Skills event held by the Lancashire FA. "We know the manager has the experience to win a competition at this level."

UEFA's current under-21 rankings put England top of the pile, and Cleverley puts that down to the depth of talent available for Pearce and the coaching staff to choose from.

"There is always pressure when you're playing for your country but there is added pressure because the level of talent in the squad," he said. "We don't have just a talented ten players - we have a talented 30 players. It is tough for the manager but there is good competition amongst the squad."

England face a tough opening game, against Spain on June 12, but 21-year-old Cleverley knows that winning the big games is a must in such a tournament.

"We will be going out there with the mentality that if you want to win things you have to beat teams like Spain," he added.

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