Pearce sticks to his guns despite 'doom and gloom'

England Under-21 manager draws on Italia '90 memories as his side face must-win game with Czech Republic

Stuart Pearce, the iron full-back, is not for turning, which is unlikely to surprise those who know him.

His own iconic tournament, the 1990 World Cup, may have involved England in a tactical U-turn after starting so poorly that The Sun screamed "Bring them home!" but his Under-21 side is set to have only minor changes in personnel and none in approach for the final group match against the Czech Republic tomorrow, which they must win to qualify for the semi-finals.

Pearce revealed yesterday that at Italia '90, when England returned to the dressing-room after the dismal opening game against the Republic of Ireland, one of the questions manager Bobby Robson asked was: "Where was Stuart Pearce?" The real one, he meant.

A similar question might have been asked by Pearce himself of Jack Rodwell and Danny Rose, two among those who have not lived up to their billing so far. Both are in danger of losing their place and Jordan Henderson, who celebrated his 21st birthday yesterday, knows he must concentrate hard rather than start dreaming about a Liverpool debut against Sunderland in August.

The way Pearce spoke about Daniel Sturridge suggested he will stay out wide, with Scott Sinclair hoping to come in on the left and Henri Lansbury a contender for an attacking midfield role. The latter pair livened England up when appearing as substitutes during their second successive draw, against Ukraine, on Wednesday.

There has been much criticism of England's approach but manager Pearce insisted yesterday: "I tried to win the first two games, strangely enough. We can play better but I have to put it in perspective. We've played 12 competitive games in this tournament and lost one. There's a bit of doom and gloom, but we have to wait until the whole scenario has panned out."

Back in 1990 – and at last summer's World Cup, when Pearce was assisting Fabio Capello – England scraped the win they needed in the third group match, fostering the manager's belief that it is better to have to go all-out for the win than to play for a draw. "I'm not so sure English teams are particularly good at defending draws. We have to be on the front foot. If we win, the momentum changes, very much in our favour," he said. "The manner in which we win could galvanise us."

Sinclair, another member of the squad checking the Premier League fixtures with huge anticipation after his hat-trick for Swansea in the play-off final, has been disappointed not to have started a game in Denmark, having being given squad No 11. "I've had to be ready to come off the bench," he said. "That's football. Sometimes you get picked, sometimes you don't."

Should it all go wrong, Pearce will expect no mercy. "I've never seen a journalist suggest they sack all the players. But I will be level-headed, look at it as a learning curve and try to move on and take the next squad of players to the next tournament."

He intends to do that with the England Under-20s at the World Cup in Colombia next month, leaving little doubt that he will sign the new two-year contract on offer as Under-21 manager. Yesterday he also admitted he would like to take the logical step of leading the Great Britain team at the Olympics next year: "It would be a fantastic opportunity," he said.

England (probable,4-2-3-1): Fielding (Derby); Walker (Tottenham), Smalling (Manchester Utd), Jones (Blackburn), Bertrand (Chelsea); Mancienne (Hamburg), Henderson (Liverpool); Sturridge (Chelsea), Lansbury (Arsenal), Sinclair (Chelsea); Welbeck (Manchester Utd).

Czech Republic (probable, 4-1-4-1): Vaclik; Celustka, Suchy, Mazuch, Lecjaks; Gecov; Dockal, Kadlec, Moravek, Hlousek; Pekhart.

Referee P Tagliavento (Italy)

Results and Fixtures

Group A

Results: 11 June: Belarus 2-0 Iceland, Denmark 0-1 Switzerland.

14 June: Switzerland 2-0 Iceland, Denmark 2-1 Belarus.

Remaining fixtures: Today Iceland v Denmark, Switzerland v Belarus.

Group B

Results: 12 June: Czech Republic 2-1 Ukraine, Spain 1-1 England.

Yesterday: Czech Republic 0-2 Spain, Ukraine 0-0 England.

Remaining fixtures: Tomorrow England v Czech Republic (7.45pm), Ukraine v Spain.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific