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Pearce wants Zaha to miss senior tour

Wednesday, 28 November 2012 - 4:02pm IST | Agency: Daily Telegraph
Players cannot play in both events and Pearce has been frustrated at losing important players for the past three under-21 championships.

Roy Hodgson and Stuart Pearce have held constructive talks about the need for England Under-21s to take a strong team to next summer's European Championship. Pearce, who is in Tel Aviv for today's (Wednesday's) draw, still knows that Hodgson has "first dibbins" on picking Raheem Sterling, Wilfried Zaha, Steven Caulker and Jack Butland for the seniors' trip to Brazil but hopes he can take a competitive squad to Israel.

Players cannot play in both events and Pearce has been frustrated at losing important players for the past three under-21 championships.

"Over the years, I have always gone five, six or seven players light to really take the opposition on,'' said Pearce. "Some of those players have been critical. It would be nice to go with every age-appropriate player to a major tournament, taking on the best in Europe who come with their best players more often than we do. We need to go with a competitive squad because you come up against the Germans, the Spanish, the Italians, some real heavyweights."

Pearce and Hodgson have discussed the worth of an under-21 star going to Rio, perhaps playing only 45 minutes of a friendly, against a minimum three competitive games in Israel. Pearce feels it would make more sense for the likes of Zaha and Sterling to gain tournament experience. "I would think so. There might be an argument for many other players in the senior set-up as well. But Roy will make the judgement call on what he needs. The senior team is most important.

"I'm sure common sense will come in regard to trying to maximise the potential of these young players, to get them playing as much football, critical football. If anyone goes to Brazil on the senior tour, I can't see them [also doing Israel] because it overlaps with our preparation with the 21s.

"Wilfried has been very good while he was with us. They are young players making their way in the game, especially Raheem. He's 17. He's come on the scene very quickly this season for Liverpool. While we have had him in the development age groups before, he has really made a mark this season in the Premier League."

It has also been a good year for Pearce with the under-21s. They won all six games in 2012, scoring 11 goals and conceding none, also coming through a tough play-off against Serbia to qualify for Israel.

The achievement was overshadowed by the Serbs' reaction to defeat in Krusevac. "When I went back in the dressing room, the only thing that was important to me was the victory,'' reflected Pearce. "The only thing that started that shenanigans after the result was the hurt the Serbians were feeling because they'd been beaten.''

The FA subsequently indicated it might not send teams to Serbia. Pearce, who was focusing on the future as he opened a 3G pitch at Netherton United in Peterborough funded with a pounds 246,000 grant from the Football Foundation, would go.

"I have never been one to shrink from a challenge. That will be a decision for my bosses. It is a sad day for sport if at any level one country decides not to go to another. Hopefully I am seeing it in one-off isolation that will be dealt with by Uefa."

 




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