Pearce vows to take all his top players for next tilt at U-21 glory

England Under-21 manager is anxious to avoid a repeat of this summer's early exit

Stuart Pearce insists he must be allowed to take his best players to the next European Under-21 Championship if England are not to suffer a repeat of their early exit from this summer's tournament.

Pearce's side began what they hope will prove another successful qualifying campaign with a 6-0 thrashing of Azerbaijan on Thursday night. But the head coach was already concerned about what could be another club-versus-country row in the run-up to the 2013 tournament in Israel, after losing his battle to take the likes of Jack Wilshere and Andy Carroll to Denmark in June.

"I learnt that you can't go and take the best in Europe on with five of your key players missing – that's vitally important," Pearce said. "The likes of Carroll, [Micah] Richards, Wilshere, Martin Kelly – that's difficult to do. Especially when you see the Spanish turn up with [Juan] Mata and Bojan [Krkic]. We have to learn the lesson from that."

Pearce lost the services of several key men for Thursday's Group 8 win at Vicarage Road, with captain Phil Jones called up to the senior squad and Danny Welbeck, Kyle Walker, Emmanuel Frimpong and Kelly all withdrawing through injury. However, England did not need them as a new-look side romped home, inspired by midfielder Henri Lansbury, who scored twice and set up both of Craig Dawson's two debut goals.

Pearce said of Lansbury, who was part of the squad in Denmark: "Henri, in some ways, came of age this summer. You have to look at these young players and sometimes it takes some longer than others to come make a stamp at under-21 level.

"Henri's one of those. He's been patient, his training was fantastic during the summer. We saw a different Henri Lansbury, a more mature young man. We were expecting a great deal of him tonight and he's delivered."

Lansbury joined West Ham from Arsenal on a season-long loan on transfer deadline day, and Pearce added: "The more players that we've got out actually playing for clubs, the better it is for me. For me as a national coach, it's ideal. As we've seen with the likes of [Theo] Walcott, the under-21s have had to supplement the lack of club football in some ways."

It looked ominous for Azerbaijan as early as the fifth minute when an unchallenged Dawson headed in Lansbury's corner. But, other than a deflected Nathan Delfouneso effort, Pearce's youngsters began to demonstrate the kind of failings that had cost their predecessors dear. There was a lack of technique on the ball, including poor touch and control, although they were given enough space to get away with it.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain produced some exciting wing play, setting up England's second after 21 minutes when his cross was hooked home acrobatically by the retreating Lansbury. It was 3-0 on the stroke of half-time when a neat exchange between Jordan Henderson and Matthew Briggs finished with the former curling a fierce strike home from 25 yards.

Pearce withdrew Connor Wickham and Delfouneso for Martyn Waghorn and local hero Marvin Sordell midway through the half. The latter should have scored a fourth when he cushioned a volley just wide but it did not matter as, minutes later, Umarov parried Oxlade-Chamberlain's cross straight to Lansbury, who fired in his second. Jonjo Shelvey picked up a needless yellow and Eshgin Guliyev left the field on a stretcher before Dawson glanced home his second.

Meanwhile, Gary Neville believes that not even Sir Alex Ferguson would have helped the England seniors win last year's World Cup. Fabio Capello's side were humiliated by Germany, losing 4-1 in the second round in South Africa, with Neville claiming the squad lacked quality.

The former Manchester United defender, however, feels Ferguson would have struggled to push England any further. Neville said: "Ferguson may have got more out of the squad. But the reality is, would we have beaten Spain in the last World Cup? No, because they were better than England."

With 85 appearances to his name , Neville is England's most-capped right-back, but has described playing for his country as "a wasted opportunity". Only once during his career did England progress beyond the last eight – the Euro '96 semi-final when they again lost to Germany – and then Neville was not involved in that game.

"I loved playing for England, but we've fallen short and I've contributed to that over the last 10 years as much as anyone," he said.

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

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate