Pearce extols virtues of Under-21s

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Stuart Pearce has stressed the importance of the role played by England Under-21s in helping the development of fringe players at Barclays Premier League clubs.

Most club managers abhor international friendlies, especially at such a crucial stage in the season, with the increased risk of injury and fatigue their primary gripes.

But Pearce believes that he is doing some club managers a service by providing their players with some valuable match experience and said: "There are the likes of James Milner and Gabby Agbonlahor at Aston Villa who have played a lot of matches this season, but there is also a flip side. Tom Huddlestone hasn't started recently for Tottenham and it is important to get him some football."

He added: "It is the same with Adam Johnson (Middlesbrough) and Joe Hart (Manchester City) and Fraizer Campbell and Jamie O'Hara (both Tottenham), and there are nine or 10 players in this squad that are not playing regularly for their clubs.

"Them playing games is massively important for the clubs and that can't be lost either - the importance of the Under-21s to help the clubs."

Pearce also insists that he has not received any complaint from Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill over his decision to call-up Agbonlahor for the under-21 games in Norway on Friday and against France at Nottingham Forest's City Ground on Tuesday.

O'Neill was angered by Fabio Capello's decision to play Emile Heskey in the friendly against Spain last month despite an Achilles injury, and it was reported that he was similarly unimpressed by Agbonlahor's late inclusion despite a calf problem.

However, Pearce said: "I spoke to Martin early in the week and he has been very supportive to us.

"He supplies us with quite a few players - Milly (James Milner), Craig Gardner, Gabby - there is an English core to Aston Villa, so his support is vital to us."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Tottenham Hotspur
Tom Huddlestone
Joe Hart
Manchester City
James Milner
Emile Heskey
Premier League
Nottingham Forest
Stuart Pearce
Aston Villa
Adam Johnson
Craig Gardner
Jamie O'Hara
Fraizer Campbell

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