England Under-21 boss Pearce laments absence of best players

The depleted Young Lions were beaten 1-0 by Italy on Wednesday night, and the 51-year-old has admitted his squad could have been much stronger had more players been made available
England Under-21 manager Stuart Pearce is disappointed he could not pick his strongest squad for the European Championships in Israel.

The former Manchester City boss is missing key players through injury and commitments to Roy Hodgson's senior side, while he also suggested some players did not want to "give up their summers".

Pearce's Young Lions were beaten 1-0 by Italy on Wednesday, and Pearce believes England's chances of claiming victory in Israel, and their long-term future, are being damaged by the absence of so many players.

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"If you don't bring your best then you have to take your chance," Pearce told reporters.

"I'll tell you now what you have to do to be successful at senior level. You have to qualify with the best team, you have to take your best team to the tournament and you have to give young players as much tournament experience as possible before they step up to the senior team.

"You can guarantee you'll lose four or five players through injury [when choosing a squad].

"Then obviously there are one or two players who don't want to, which ever way you like it, give up their summers to represent their country and that's the way it is."

Luke Shaw, Callum McManaman and Raheem Sterling, among others, are all missing from his squad through injury, whilst some of his Under-21s are with the senior team.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Phil Jones were both part of Hodgson's squad for matches against the Republic of Ireland and Brazil, but Pearce is adamant their development would have been better served in Israel.

He continued: "I want young players to turn up and play at tournaments to get that experience before they tread onto the stage at senior level.

"You only need to look at the development of Theo Walcott, he went to the 2006 World Cup and between 2006 and 2013 he's ended up playing five and a half matches at major tournaments.

"We have to address that and make sure some of our brighter people, the Oxlade-Chamberlains and Jones's, get tournament experience, actually playing time not just going with squads."

Former England manager Glenn Hoddle was critical of the performance on Wednesday evening, and Pearce admitted he had also been disappointed by the performance of his side against the Azzurrini.

He added: "On Wednesday's performance I would totally agree with him in regard to us retaining the ball and going too long, but for some of that you have to give credit to the Italians.

"There's no hiding place, we didn't play well enough as a group and the players are aware of that, I'm aware of that."