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Ndidi could be better than Kante

By ESPN Staff

Pearce lauds brave Dawson

Stuart Pearce hailed the courage of Craig Dawson after the West Brom defender defied a nasty head wound to help England maintain their 100% start to their European Under-21 Championship qualifying campaign.

Dawson played more than half of Monday evening's 2-1 Group Eight win in Norway with a Terry Butcher-style bandage after a clash of heads left him bloodied and needing seven stitches.

Head coach Pearce - who was in the senior England side 22 years ago when Butcher famously played on against Sweden despite bleeding profusely - said on the FA's official website: "I never cut my head open, don't worry about that.

"I always made sure I had my elbows up in the air and protecting my face. That's why I'm still very, very pretty.''

He added of West Brom defender Dawson: "He's got great courage, he's a man, is Dawson. The rest of the boys love him to bits.''

Dawson was forced off the field for almost 10 minutes in Drammen. "My head's a bit sore, but the result was worth it,'' the 21-year-old said. I had seven stitches. I went up for the header and I think I caught his boot on the way down, and it split quite easy.

"It's my first war wound for England. It was bleeding quite heavily. I was always going to come back on, definitely. The doc just wanted to stitch it up and get me back on the field.''

Dawson also used his head to put England ahead, nodding home in what is fast becoming trademark fashion from Henri Lansbury's corner.

The defender said of what was his third goal in three qualifiers: "I managed to get a free run, Henri got a great ball in there and I just had to go and attack it well.

"It was a great performance from the lads and a great result in the end. It's been a great start to the campaign and we have just got to keep on going and keep pushing forward.''

Captain Jordan Henderson slotted home England's second goal after seven minutes and the visitors held on after Valon Berisha pulled a goal back, with Norway missing more than once chance to snatch a draw.

Henderson said: "We defended well at times and we scored some good goals, so overall we are pleased with the three points. I think the overall performance was good by the lads and we showed what we were about defensively.

"They are a very good side. We knew that as we had done a lot of work on them and we knew what they were about. They showed again how good they were tonight. I think we deserved to win, because of the way we defended and went about the game, and the character we showed.''

The win gave England nine points from nine ahead of next month's double-header against Iceland and Belgium, with Norway staying second in Group Eight on six points.


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