Pearce: Keep players in age group

Stuart Pearce wants players to be denied call-ups to the senior England squad until they can't feature for the under-21s.

Last Updated: 14/08/13 at 08:55 Post Comment

Stuart Pearce: Former England Under-21 boss

Stuart Pearce: Former England Under-21 boss

Stuart Pearce has called for players to be denied call-ups to the senior England squad until they reach an age when they can no longer be considered for under-21 duty.

Pearce, who lost his job as manager of England's Under-21s following a woeful display at the European Championships earlier this year, believes the entire national team set-up is being undermined by the temptation to fast-track promising young players.

The 51-year-old claims the likes of Phil Jones, Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had "gone beyond" the sphere of the under-21 set-up after establishing themselves with the senior side.

According to Pearce, the absence of those players - and others such as Kyle Walker - contributed to the under-21 side's tribulations in Israel in June, when they crashed out in the group stage after losing all three games to Italy, Norway and Israel.

And the former full-back believes drastic action is required to ensure England's young stars are given a better chance of tasting success at tournament level as they progress through the age ranges.

"It's a big call, make no mistake, but why don't we leave all the players in their age-appropriate band and see how that works," Pearce told BT Sport.

"People will say you can't do that, players need to be upgrading, but the Spanish didn't all of a sudden win things at senior level - they were the champions at Under-17, Under-19s, Under-21s.

"Those players learned to win together, and they step on the big stage and they win World Cups.

"We're in an organisation [the FA] that hasn't won anything at senior level for 50 years, now whatever we do we won't lose the trophy cabinet because it's not there at the moment, and it isn't there at any age group either.

"If you don't take your best players to major tournaments, you've got no chance of competing against the best."

Pearce has long bemoaned the drain the senior team has had on the under-21s and believes no country in the world could sustain such losses and still compete.

"We go into the first game at the [European] championships [with] 17 players missing - eight of those with senior international caps. Now you take that amount of players out of the Spanish team they don't come home with the trophy," he said.

"I don't think we've got a wealth of talent so we're bringing the likes of the Chamberlains and the Joneses up very quickly, that are this age group now. They should be here with the under-21s now."

Pearce also believes the withdrawal of so many big names had a detrimental affect on those players that did play in Israel earlier this summer, and said: "What does it do to those players who board the plane to go to the these championships in Israel this summer when they see Chamberlain not there, Jones not there, Welbeck not there and various other players not there? I've got a feeling I know the answer, and that was reflected in some of the performances."

Pearce was working as a pundit for BT Sport as the England Under-21s, coached on a temporary basis by senior boss Roy Hodgson, eased to a fluent and attacking 6-0 win over Scotland, but sought to play down the significance of the result.

"Tonight was fantastic. When you come against the next rung of teams, that's when you've got to make your mark," he said.

"You can take Scotland on, you can take Moldova on - you'll qualify - but if you don't take your big-hitters [to tournaments] you're not going to be competitive."


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