Stuart Pearce focused on European Championship glory rather than new England Under-21 contract

England Under-21 is out of contract in the summer

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The Independent Football

Stuart Pearce insists his focus is on planning the England Under-21's bid for European Championship glory this summer rather than any concerns over his own future.

Under-21 coach Pearce is out of contract after the Euro finals which are being staged in Israel during June.

Pearce admits he expects talks over a new contract to be deferred to the summer but is adamant he is relaxed about the situation.

When asked about his contract, Pearce said: "The last thing we've heard was probably it might be deferred to the summer.

"It is not a major priority for myself. The tournament is more important for me."

Pearce feels it is crucial to send the strongest possible squad to tournaments to help youngsters with their development and has the backing of senior head coach Roy Hodgson.

He said: "Roy has made it clear he wants to send a really strong squad to the Under-21s.

"My stance has been the same for the last six years, that everytime you go to a major tournament you should go with your best possible available players at that age group.

"I'm always of that opinion when I look at Spain, France, Germany, how they've won things at the younger age groups before they've stepped up and conquered the world and Europe. We have to do the same."

Pearce is excited about the potential of Derby midfielder Will Hughes and Southampton full-back Luke Shaw who are included in the squad for tomorrow evening's friendly with Sweden at Walsall's Banks's Stadium.

He said: "Once one group of players goes through to the seniors, all of a sudden another group of youngsters comes through.

"The likes of Will Hughes and Luke Shaw have just come into the group and they excite me.

"Will has had a good season. I'm good friends with Nigel Clough so I keep in close contact about how he is doing at Derby.

"We are pleased with his development and have to make sure that we nurture that development.

"He seems a very level headed young man and that's all the good for England and Derby.

"I've been very impressed with Luke Shaw. It's a position I played for many years.

"I think he has played very well and is a good prospect."

One player who will miss out at Walsall tomorrow is Phil Jones, who has been struck down by shingles.

Jones missed Manchester United's Barclays Premier League win at Fulham on Saturday and 24 hours later was withdrawn from the Under-21 squad.

No reason was given by the Old Trafford outfit for the absences.

However, Pearce has confirmed Jones is suffering from shingles.

"Jones picked up shingles and there's not a lot we can do about it," said Pearce to several national newspapers.

"It's a shame because it makes us stronger when Phil's here, that's for sure. But it gives someone else a chance."