My Under-21 team are not tired, says Pearce

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The Independent Football

Stuart Pearce has insisted he will never accept tiredness as an excuse from his England side ahead of their European Under-21 Championship opener against Spain.

Pearce's Young Lions won their final warm-up game yesterday ahead of the finals in Denmark, cruising to a 2-0 victory over Norway at Southampton's St Mary's Stadium.

The result came less than 24 hours after their senior counterparts toiled to a 2-2 draw against Switzerland at Wembley in their latest Euro 2012 qualifier.

Manager Fabio Capello blamed England's sloppy display yesterday on tiredness but Pearce, who is also Capello's assistant at senior level, rubbished suggestions his own players could feel fatigue in Denmark.

Pearce, who saw Jack Wilshere pull out of his squad due to fears over burnout, joked: "No, no, we don't get tired, the Under-21s - it's quite incredible, it really is.

"Youthful enthusiasm, I think I call it.

"I come from the school of Brian Clough - 'We're fresher than they are' - and that was the mantra we always worked to."

He added more seriously: "It's a state of mind. We look fresh, I think mentally fresh, and that's where I think it often springs from.

"If you're mentally fresh, you'll convince your body to do anything.

"That won't be a problem for us and that'll never be an excuse that I'll ever use as manager."

Pearce was mostly pleased with his youngsters yesterday after watching them cruise to victory thanks to goals from Daniel Sturridge and a superb solo effort from Danny Rose.

He said: "If I wound the clock back a week, let's say, and I was offered the week on the training pitch that the players have given me, a 2-0 victory, no injuries, I'd snap your hand off.

"The last friendly before a major tournament, it is on the players' minds, whether I like it or not and I don't think we've done historically fantastically well in friendly matches."

Pearce picked a strong line-up yesterday but having made seven second-half substitutions, he insisted his mind was not made up about his team for Sunday's Group B opener against the Spanish.

He said: "I'll let this game settle, have a look at it over the next couple of days and then, when we're together, I'll have at look at how the players come out of this game and what I see on the training pitch between now and Sunday and with the mind's eye of the opposition that we're playing as well."

He added: "There are a lot of players that want to come in and if we want to get over the finish line in two or three weeks' time, all 23 have got to contribute to that cause, and that's tournament football."