Football: England role for Pearce

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The Independent Online
STUART PEARCE will experience his first taste of international coaching with the England Under-18 side when they play Switzerland at Peterborough on 7 September.

The veteran West Ham defender, capped 76 times by his country, is one of several current or former players brought in by the Football Association's technical director, Howard Wilkinson, to coach the various England sides. Others are Peter Beardsley, Peter Reid, Clive Allen, Nigel Pearson and David Spackman.

"The reason they are there is to widen their experience of international football on the coaching side, and to give some of their experience to the youngsters as part of their development," Wilkinson said.

Last season Wilkinson was the Under-18 coach and took David Platt under his wing. This time Pearce will be assisting Martin Hunter, who previously had a spell as assistant manager at Stoke City.

England will be using the match at London Road as part of their preparations for the Uefa Championship qualifying group, which is being staged in this country in October and November. In England's group are Spain, who are one of the strongest sides at youth level in the world, San Marino and Cyprus. The winners of the group go into a two-legged play-off, with the victors qualifying for next summer's finals.

England are hoping for a sizeable crowd for the match against Switzerland after 7,000 turned up to watch an Under-15 fixture with Scotland on the ground last season.