England Under 21s prepared perfectly for Euro 2013 and warned rivals of their prowess after they thrashed Sweden Under 21s 4-0 at Walsall’s Banks’s Stadium last night.
Thomas Ince grabbed a brace whilst goals from Jonjo Shelvey and Connor Wickham secured the win for the Three Lions.
This was the start of their preparations for the summer’s tournament and took the spotlight off Pearce after it was revealed the FA had shelved talks over his contract until after the summer tournament.
Stuart Pearce insisted his team would improve further, despite this convincing performance. He said: “There’s a lot of work to do between now and the summer. I have been to three tournaments before and I know the standard you have to achieve to win. We have to go to the tournament with our best players.
“The Spanish will be strong, the Germans are looking very strong and the big powerhouses of Europe are at this tournament. There’s a long way to go and we’ll keep our fingers crossed our players stay fully fit.
“We’ll motivate them and get them ready for another tournament.”
Pearce also reflected on the performance of Thomas Ince and declared that he would surpass his father’s abilities. He noted: “We hope he’s going to be better. If he emulates Paul, he’s certainly had some career. There’s a lot of common sense with Tom and he’s beyond his years.
“He’s got his Pop behind him, as well giving him a guiding hand in what’s best for him. There was speculation about him and maybe one or two offers.
“But he’s very level headed and playing for a club who are going to give him a chance of regular first team football. He doesn’t seem to get tired and doesn’t seem to get injured.
“He keeps playing and playing and has racked up a lot of games for Blackpool.”
The result means England Under 21s have kept a record-breaking seven consecutive clean sheets and Pearce described the performance as one of his best in charge of the youngsters.
He said: “It’s fantastic to kick the new year off with a good result and it’s something to build on for the summer.
“I think it’s arguably as well as we have played – certainly for 45 minutes. The way we grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck.”
England started with Liverpool quartet Jack Robinson, Andre Wisdom, Jordan Henderson and Shelvey but it was transfer target Ince that got them off the mark after he slid in Adam Smith’s low cross after seven minutes.
Shelvey converted Ince’s poor shot to double the lead and Ince made it three when he followed up Josh McEachran’s awful penalty that was saved.
With 14 minutes left to play England added a fourth through Wickham.
England (4-2-3-1): Steele (Rudd 46); Smith (Lees 75), Dawson, Wisdom, Robinson; Henderson (Hughes 46), McEachran (Chalobah 67); Ince, Shelvey (Lansbury 46), Afobe (Wickham 46); Zaha (Lowe, 58). Subs not used: Amos (GK).
Sweden (4-4-1-1): Linde (Stomberg 46); Johansson, Milosevic (Bergstrom 73), Helander, Malm; Hrgota (Nazari 75), Allansson (Blomqvist 62), Hiljemark, Andersson (Larsson 46); Nyman (Barkrot, 62); Ishak. Subs not used: Azulay.
Referee: Felix Zwayer (Germany)