Former England caretaker boss Howard Wilkinson backs Stuart Pearce's decision to experiment

Ex-FA technical director believes that Wembley friendly against the Netherlands will be perfect stage for rising stars to demonstrate their international credentials

By Rob Stewart

Former Football Association technical director Howard Wilkinson has backed caretaker England manager Stuart Pearce to select an experimental squad for the upcoming friendly against the Netherlands at Wembley.

Eyebrows have already been raised by Pearce’s decision to select the likes of Sunderland striker Fraizer Campbell and Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley ahead of more experienced players with Euro 2012 looming but former England caretaker boss Wilkinson has applauded the move.

“The likes of Rooney when he came along and Gascoigne when he came along and George Best when he came along are very far and few between in terms of being able to cope with stepping straight on to the top of the bill at the London Palladium,” Wilkinson told

“People generally need games and they need experience and they need to build up a stock of confidence and self-knowledge so it is not easy but the big thing is to have faith in them and to give them a chance and this is an ideal opportunity.”

Wilkinson, who works as a coaching consultant for Uefa and is chairman of the League Managers’ Association, believes that the resignation of Fabio Capello has created an ideal scenario for experimentation with Pearce being promoted from his role as head coach to take charge of the senior team.

“I think that Stuart Pearce is in a great position and England are in a great position,” the former Leeds United and Sunderland manager added.

“I say that because being caretaker of the senior side and having taken the Under-21s he is well aware of the capabilities of the young players and he is only caretaker and it seems highly unlikely that he would get the job on a permanent basis but you never know.

“Had it been Capello making those changes there would have been more scrutiny and there would have been more people looking for him to fail. This is a good time to experiment.

“Whether they are able to grab it with both hands and establish themselves remains to be seen. Only time will tell but this is a great opportunity for them to show what they can do.

“You can’t rush these people. There is no substitute for experience. And getting experience these days is not as easy as it was. You need games under your belt.”