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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jun 15, 2011

Pearce backs his young stars

Stuart Pearce has insisted it is far too early to judge his England side or Spain ahead of their second matches at the European Under-21 Championships.

Pearce hit back at critics of the Young Lions' opening performance against the tournament favourites, who completely dominated Sunday's match in Denmark. England snatched a dramatic 1-1 draw but their display did little to silence those who have branded English players technically inferior to their Spanish counterparts.

They have an opportunity to address those concerns against Ukraine, in a game which kicks off at 1945 BST shortly after Spain play against Group B leaders Czech Republic.

Pearce said: "Spain will play the Czechs and probably dominate possession of the ball. But that's no indication of what the score will be, as you see in games all over the world. Spain have got some very talented players but there is no guarantee Spain will get out of this group.

"What's your report on Spain if they don't get out of the group?''

Pearce acknowledged England did not do themselves justice on Sunday but insisted that did not mean they should throw out the baby with the bath water.

He said: "I'm not going to get washed away by the fact Spain had 59% of possession - that will happen when we play Spain at any level, from under-17s to senior level, and in 50 years' time we'll be sitting here having the same conversation.

"But what you can't lose sight of is the individual strengths and trends of each nation at tournaments such as this. We all have our DNA as nations, whether you're Spanish, Italian, English, German. We all play in a certain way that the public demands in that country and probably the breeding and the climate that you train in as well.

"We have to learn lessons from other nations and try to learn lessons from them to improve us but never lose sight of the DNA of our nation, and the strengths of our individual players. The strengths are they never ever throw the towel in and we use that as a strength.

"But you've also got to use the other aspects of the game as well.''

Pearce refused to confirm whether captain Michael Mancienne - or any of his players - would play in the second match. But it would appear Jack Rodwell is in line for a recall after impressing from the bench on Sunday.

The goalkeeper and back four look assured of their places, as do Jordan Henderson, Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck. That would leave Mancienne, Cleverley, Fabrice Muamba, Marc Albrighton, Danny Rose and Scott Sinclair to compete for the final two spots depending on form and tactics.

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