Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Phil Jones accused of 'apathy' towards England Under-21s

Former manager Stuart Pearce hits out at some youngsters - including Gareth Bale

Former England Under-21s boss Stuart Pearce has accused Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Phil Jones of “apathy” towards representing the Young Lions after having a taste of the senior set-up - and also questioned Gareth Bale's late withdrawal from Team GB's Olympic squad.

Pearce was dismissed as U21 manager after the side lost all three of their group games at the 2013 European Championship, and acknowledged he was always up against it after being forced to select an under-strength squad for the tournament in Israel.

He said on Sky Sports News: "In our wildest dreams, do you honestly think that England or any nation in the world can turn up at a major tournament without six or seven... I think there were eight players with senior international caps that didn't actually come who could have played for the Under-21s this summer.

"The odd one was injury. Apathy played a big part in it. The Oxlade-Chamberlains of this world, the Phil Joneses... If they didn't want to come... Once they go through the golden ivory towers of the seniors, they don't want to come and play in the Under-21s any more.

"There's no nation in the world that could suffer that. However we solve that - if it's a case of stopping players going into the seniors because they don't want to step down - like the Spanish boys do, and they're happy to do so... Our boys, for whatever reason - the powers, the Premier League, the finance they get at such a young age, the lack of real passion to play for your country - no matter what... we have to solve that problem."

Pearce also suggested Wales forward Bale, who earlier this month completed his world-record move from Tottenham to Real Madrid, was less than keen to turn out for Great Britain at last summer's London Olympics.

The London 2012 men's Team GB coach said: "I don't want to speak out of school and speak out of confidences, but we had a situation with Gareth Bale going into the Olympic Games. I spoke to him seven months prior to the Olympic Games, (saying) I'm going to put squad out on Friday morning.

"On Thursday he rings me and says his back's not so good, he's going to have to pull out of the squad.

"He plays his first game for Tottenham pre-season the same day we play our first Olympic game.

"The brightest talent in Britain at the time didn't want to go to the Olympic Games. And he wasn't alone, by the way.

"Now you ask the 23 players that went to the Olympics - you ask (Craig) Bellamy, (Ryan) Giggs, players of that ilk what they felt about the Olympic experience, and they'll say arguably it could have been the best experience of their life on the football pitch."

PA

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When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
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