Football: Pearce will help to coach Under-18s

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The Independent Online
STUART PEARCE will make his delayed debut as an international coach when England Under-18 host a four-team Uefa Championship qualifying group next month.

Pearce would have been involved with the Under-18s for the friendly match against Switzerland at Peterborough earlier this month but his surprise recall to the senior squad by Kevin Keegan put paid to that.

Now he is unable to play for anyone because of his broken leg, so he has the chance to help guide the Under-18s in their attempt to reach the play-offs via matches against Spain, Cyprus and San Marino.

Pearce should feel at home in his first match, which is against Spain at his club's home ground, Upton Park, on 6 October, and the squad includes four of his West Ham club-mates, Joe Cole, Stephen Bywater, Ezomo Iriekpen and Michael Carrick.

Bywater, a goalkeeper, trained with the full England squad in the build- up to the Euro 2000 qualifying match against Luxembourg this season. He is currently gaining experience on loan at Wycombe.

Cole, Carrick, Aston Villa's Gareth Barry and Coventry's Gary McSheffrey have all tasted first-team action with their Premiership clubs this season.

In addition to Pearce, Nigel Spackman, who managed Sheffield United, will assist the Under-18's head coach, Martin Hunter, the former Bradford and Stoke assistant manager.

The Nigerian international Kingsley Obiekwu has started a one-week trial with Sheffield United. The 24-year-old defender has been recommended by Arsenal's Nigeria striker Nwankwo Kanu. Obiekwu, who played for Nigeria's 1996 Olympic gold medallists, is now with the United Arab Emirates side Al Ahli. He played in a Blades practice match yesterday.

Middlesbrough have rejected a move by Aberdeen to lure their striker Andy Campbell north of the border There was also an approach from Huddersfield for the player.

ENGLAND UNDER-18 SQUAD (for Uefa Championship qualifying group): Bywater (West Ham), Kirkland (Coventry), Iriekpen (West Ham), Tann (Cambridge), Samuel, Barry (both Aston Villa), Hanson (Middlesbrough), Konchesky (Charlton), Carrick (West Ham), Prutton (Nottm Forest), Pead (Coventry), Cole (West Ham), Stonebridge (Plymouth), Mike (Manchester City), McSheffrey (Coventry), Etherington (Peterborough), Webber (Manchester United), Armstrong (Liverpool).