French loss is timely warning - Pearce

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Stuart Pearce remained upbeat despite overseeing the England Under-21 side's first home defeat in almost three-and-a-half years.

France had been the last team to beat England in a competitive under-21 international in open play, in November 2005, pipping Peter Taylor's team to a place in the 2006 UEFA European Under-21 Championship finals, and they repeated the trick in Tuesday night's friendly international at the City Ground.

"We were outplayed by a very good French side and I think the beating will serve us well," said Pearce. "This defeat and this bloody nose that we have taken might have come at just the right time."

He added: "Things have been going fairly smoothly for us. These players are used to coming off having played reasonably well and having won matches. But that is what the Under-21 squad is all about - learning. We have got a massive tournament in the summer and we have to learn from this.

"The players are disappointed but the one thing that they have got is character, individually and collectively. They will want to come out next time and be better players and they will learn from this."

Everton's 18-year-old midfielder Jack Rodwell was handed his Under-21s debut with five minutes remaining, while the likes of Fabrice Muamba, Michael Mancienne and Danny Welbeck added to their caps tally.

Pearce added: "I think there are positives that we can take from the game, and players getting minutes under their belts is one of them.

"Jack Rodwell has got his first cap, Michael Mancienne and David Wheater have gone into double figures for caps, and Danny Welbeck has come on and so has Fraizer Campbell.

"I don't think there is a player out there that hasn't learned something or taken something from the game and that can only serve us well for the summer."

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

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Premier League
Danny Welbeck
Fabrice Muamba
Stuart Pearce
David Wheater
Michael Mancienne
Fraizer Campbell
Jack Rodwell

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