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The stand-in boss named uncapped Sunderland forward Fraizer Campbell ahead of the Reds No. 9 but says it has nothing to do with him missing last summer's European U21 Championship

England caretaker manager Stuart Pearce has hit back at claims he has a problem with Andy Carroll after he omitted the Liverpool striker from his squad.

Pearce named uncapped Sunderland striker Fraizer Campbell ahead of 23-year-old Carroll for England’s friendly against the Netherlands on Wednesday.

The 49-year-old, who has managed the under-21 squad since 2007, has refuted suggestions he overlooked Carroll because he missed last summer’s European under-21 Championship, in which England were knocked out at the group stage.

Pearce told The Mirror: “That was an irrelevance. Andy Carroll was injured last summer, that’s why he couldn’t participate in the under-21s. That was the only reason in respect of that.

“It’s been reported that I had a problem with Andy which is so far from the truth it’s incredible. I picked this squad solely on the form of the other four that I put in front of him against anything he’s doing at the moment."

Carroll has struggled for goals since his high-profile £35 million move to Liverpool, but he has netted six times this term and has being showing signs of returning to the form that bought him a move to Anfield.

Pearce added: “I just feel with Andy at the moment is rediscovering some form. I feel as though the individuals we’ve put in before him are slightly ahead of him at this moment in time.”

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