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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jun 18, 2011

Pearce still to decide XI

Stuart Pearce is torn over the final place in England's starting line-up for Sunday's must-win European Under-21 Championship clash with Czech Republic.

Huguenin: All open at U21 Championship

Pearce refused to confirm the identity or position he had yet to decide upon but it appeared certain to involve his much-criticised midfield.

Any one of captain Michael Mancienne, Jack Rodwell or Jordan Henderson could be for the chop in England's final Group B clash in Denmark, having all disappointed in Wednesday's bore draw with Ukraine.

Henri Lansbury or Fabrice Muamba would be the obvious beneficiaries were Pearce to freshen things up, which he also looks like doing in attack by recalling Scott Sinclair for Danny Rose.

"I've got one position that I'm going to sleep on tonight," Pearce said. "The players are aware of that now."

The England boss allayed fears over the fitness of Lansbury and defender Chris Smalling, both of whom missed training on Saturday.

"Chris has got a little touch of tonsilitis - he'll be no problem tomorrow," he said. "Henri just rolled his ankle - he'll be fine again tomorrow as well. It's just precautionary."

England will need to improve if they are to avoid crashing out of the tournament after struggling to create chances in their two games to date, but Pearce was confident the fact they have to win to reach the semi-finals would bring the best out of his side.

"That's how we play week in, week out in the Premier League, Championship and in the cup games," he said. "We've looked at the Czechs. We feel as though we know there are certain positional situations that we can exploit, so we've worked on that today.

"We go into every game trying to win. We're undefeated at this moment in time, so we hope to come out of Sunday's match undefeated having won a game."

The Czechs went through qualifying undefeated but were easily second best to Spain on Wednesday.

"They certainly got a bit of a runaround by the Spanish, I think, having watched the game," Pearce said, "but they've got three points in the bag, so that puts them in a stronger position in the group than we are at the moment."

He added: "Listen, it's a really tough group we're in. We knew it'd go to the last game. All four teams are in the same situation. They've got to go into the last games and get results.

"There is not one team out of the four or us that can afford to get beaten. If you get beaten, you go home, as simple as that. That applies to the Spanish as much as us."

Both sides have several players one booking away from a suspension, while Lukas Vacha has already earned a ban for the Czechs. Pearce refused to put pressure on referee Paolo Tagliavento, insisting it was up to his team to play well enough to frustrate their opponents.

"I don't complain about referees," he said. "We have to make sure our movement within the shape of our team's quick enough to cause the Czechs problems and put them under pressure with bookings"'

England have started both matches slowly and Pearce could be forgiven for sending them out fired up on Sunday.

"Sometimes, it's the right time for a quiet word," he said. "Other times, you have to raise the tempo of your voice. You've got to have confidence in your team. I've got confidence in the ability of our squad to go and deliver a result, always have done."

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