Stuart Pearce denies Patrick Vieira's claims that English players no longer dream about representing the national team

 

England Under-21 manager Stuart Pearce has rubbished claims from Patrick Vieira that English players no longer dream about representing their country.

Former Arsenal skipper Vieira yesterday said young players no longer dream of representing England and suggested they withdraw from squads too willingly.

Pearce, whose side face Serbia at Carrow Road on Friday evening in the first leg of their European Championship play-off, reckons his players are always happy to be a part of the international set-up.

He said: "I think the most important thing is whenever they come here we have to educate them footballing-wise and they have to have a good footballing experience and enjoy each others company - I get that impression with them and have done over the years with the environment we create.

"A lot of the credit goes to the senior players, the schoolmasters. The Fabrice Muamba's, the (Jack) Rodwell's and the (Jordan) Henderson's for making sure there is that code of conduct in the players and making them feel wanted.

"They (the players) are the best ambassadors I could ever have - if they come away and say to their team-mates who get picked for the first time how (good) it is to play with the under-21s.

"If they come away with a bad experience it is going to sour their taste before they walk through the door, but we don't have that here."

Pearce also praised the developing talent of the likes of Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling and believes his performances for the Reds have left him full of self-confidence.

Roy Hodgson has said he expects to name players in his senior England squad who are not necessarily first-choice with their clubs but Pearce reckons game-time could be vital for his younger players.

Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha has three Under-21 caps to his name and Pearce has been delighted with the way he has had his talent nurtured at Selhurst Park.

"They give him the option of playing at Palace, that is credit to them and Dougie (Freedman, Palace manager), he has got a lot of confidence in the young player.

"I think they did the same with Victor Moses when he was coming through the system at Palace and there is a lot to be said for having a good, solid grounding at these clubs and you will make the step forward if you ability dictates.

"I would probably advise a player to play - one thing you can't underestimate as well is where you enjoy playing your football, that is really important.

"I had opportunities to leave Forest some years ago but decided to stay because I enjoyed the environment I was working in and the manager I was working for."

PA

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