Pearce calls on strong squad to prove credentials

England Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce believes the squad for tonight's friendly international against Slovenia is one of the strongest he has ever had.

Several players who have featured in Fabio Capello's senior set-up, and can count themselves unlucky not to be in the Italian's squad for tomorrow's friendly against the Czech Republic, are available to Pearce. The Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor, who scored a hat-trick against Manchester City at the weekend, is set to be involved, alongside Premier League regulars David Wheater, Micah Richards and Tom Huddlestone.

Pearce has challenged the players to produce a performance at the KC Stadium in Hull that befits their ability – and give a further reminder to Capello of their talents.

"It's a very strong squad on paper and now we need to deliver a performance which indicates that strength," Pearce said. "Right across the board we have a strong squad and lots of players with experience of playing regularly in the Premier League with their clubs. You can go through the squad and there are not too many names that people might think, 'Where is he playing his club football?'"

Pearce is definitely without the Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor, who picked up an ankle injury in the 1-1 draw at Manchester United. However, he confirmed that United striker Fraizer Campbell, who spent a large part of last season at Hull City, is fit to play on the ground where he enjoyed plenty of success. Campbell was withdrawn by manager Sir Alex Ferguson in the second half at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Pearce also stressed that the likes of Agbonlahor and Richards need to be able to respond positively if they are asked to report for under-21 duty instead of the senior side.

"I think some of the players in the under-21 squad should be disappointed if they don't make the senior squad," he added. "But as soon as the squad is picked, and if you're in the under-21 side, you should be ready to roll your sleeves up and think, 'I must do well in this squad.'

"There are five or six boys who arguably could be in the senior squad but for them to sit on the bench against the Czech Republic for the senior squad is probably a bit counter-productive. They need to be playing football at their age and if they are eligible for the under-21 category they should be here. They'll get experience from being on the pitch, not in the stands."

Agbonlahor said for his part: "It is obviously disappointing not to be selected and you want to be playing for your country. But if Mr Capello doesn't put you in the squad then we have to go out, like on Sunday, and prove him wrong. That is all you can do, really. All we can do is play good football for our clubs. It is out of our hands whether or not we are selected.

"Mr Capello does come to Villa quite a lot and I am not going to give up. We have just got to keep doing the business for our club. Then if he doesn't want to pick us, he doesn't want to pick us."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before