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Pearce Hails His Young Lions
Published : 06 Feb 2013 12:23:24
Former Toon defender Stuart Pearce admitted his England Under-21s had exceeded his expectations with a convincing 4-0 friendly victory over Sweden on Tuesday night.
Blackpool forward Tom Ince, the subject of a host of January transfer speculation, capped a man of the match display with a brace either side of setting up Jonjo Shelvey's tap-in as the Young Lions took complete control before half-time at a wet Banks's Stadium in Walsall.
Substitute Connor Wickham headed a fourth after the break in what was a disjointed second period following a raft of substitutions - with England racking up a seventh successive win, each without conceding a single goal following a superb 2012.
Pearce will guide England into his fourth Euro finals since taking charge six years ago, with the Young Lions bowing out in the group stages in 2011 following their final defeat two years previous.
Stuart Pearce: "It's arguably as well as we've played, certainly the first half when we really took the game by the scruff of the neck.
"I just wish we were meeting up again tomorrow to prepare for another game. It's a great achievement, seven clean sheets on the trot, and that's credit to the lads.
"It couldn't have been a better way to get our preparations underway. It was beyond my expectations how well they gelled with each other.
"They passed the ball fantastically well, they had a real enthusiasm to stop the opposition getting efforts at our goal. Winning the game 4-0 was a real bonus.
"I think right across the squad, the way they've come together straight away for this new calendar year has been outstanding for us.
"It's our first stepping stone on building for the tournament in the summer.
"I think there's a lot of work to do between now and the summer. I've been to three tournaments before, I know the standard you have to achieve to actually win it so we'll have to go there with our best players, make no mistake about that.
"The Spanish will be strong, the Germans are looking very strong - the big powerhouses of Europe are at this tournament, so there's a long way to go."
Source: Newcastle United Mad