With several more experienced players rested or included in Roy Hodgson's senior squad, the Young Lions boss has given five uncapped players a chance to shine in Tuesday's friendlyStuart Pearce has included five new names in the England Under-21 squad to face Northern Ireland on Tuesday, and has challenged the players to work themselves into contention for Euro 2013.
Manchester United goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, Chelsea and Leicester City defenders Nathan Chalobah and Liam Moore, Derby County midfielder Will Hughes and Arsenal striker Benik Afobe have all been called up for the first time, while there are recalls for Southampton's Nathaniel Clyne and Newcastle's Sammy Ameobi.
Pearce believes the friendly in Blackpool will provide great experience for the debutants, and gives them a chance to stake a claim for next year's European Championship in Israel.
“This will be an opportunity for a number of younger players, and those who have not had much game time, to impress and put themselves in contention for a place on the plane next summer,” the coach told the FA's official website.
“There are young players within this group who will be able to go again with the Under-21s for the 2015 campaign, so every chance to play for England will give them experience they will no doubt call upon in the future.”
The Young Lions will be hoping to end 2012 on a high, after winning all five matches this year so far without conceding a single goal, to book their place in next year's tournament.
Victory in Blackpool would equal a record six-game winning streak that dates back to 1991, and Pearce has set his sights on matching that feat.
“I’m proud of how well the team has performed this year to clinch qualification for the Finals yet again,” Pearce said.
“We are now one game away from a sixth consecutive victory, a feat not achieved at Under-21s level for over 20 years.
“Hopefully a solid performance here tonight will also provide the team with a springboard as we build for Israel.”
Squad in full...
Ben Amos (Hull City - on loan from Manchester United), Sam Johnstone (Manchester United), Jason Steele (Middlesbrough)
Nathaniel Chalobah (Watford - on loan from Chelsea), Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton), Tom Lees (Leeds United), Liam Moore (Leicester City), Jack Robinson (Liverpool), Adam Smith (Millwall - on loan from Tottenham Hotspur), Andre Wisdom (Liverpool)
Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Will Hughes (Derby County), Jason Lowe (Blackburn Rovers), Josh McEachran (Middlesbrough - on loan from Chelsea), Nick Powell (Manchester United), Andros Townsend (Tottenham Hotspur)
Benik Afobe (Bolton Wanderers - on loan from Arsenal), Sammy Ameobi (Newcastle United), Tom Ince (Blackpool), Connor Wickham (Sunderland), Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)