Football

Pearce undecided about line-up

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Stuart Pearce has revealed he was torn over the final place in England's starting line-up for Sunday's must-win European Under-21 Championship clash with Czech Republic.

Pearce refused to confirm the identity or position he had yet to decide upon but it appeared certain to involve his much-criticised midfield. Any one of captain Michael Mancienne, Jack Rodwell or Jordan Henderson could be for the chop in England's final Group B clash in Denmark, having all disappointed in Wednesday's bore draw with Ukraine.

Henri Lansbury or Fabrice Muamba would be the obvious beneficiaries were Pearce to freshen things up, which he also looks like doing in attack by recalling Scott Sinclair for Danny Rose. Pearce said: "I've got one position that I'm going to sleep on tonight. The players are aware of that now."

The England boss allayed fears over the fitness of Lansbury and defender Chris Smalling, both of whom missed training on Saturday.

"Chris has got a little touch of tonsilitis - he'll be no problem," he said. "Henri just rolled his ankle - he'll be fine as well. It's just precautionary."

England will need to improve dramatically if they are to avoid crashing out of the tournament, but Pearce is confident the fact they have to win to reach the semi-finals would bring the best out of his side.

"That's how we play week in, week out in the Premier League, Championship and in the cup games," he said. "We've looked at the Czechs, we feel as though we know there are certain positional situations that we can exploit, so we've worked on that.

"We go into every game trying to win. We're undefeated at this moment in time, so we hope to come out of Sunday's match undefeated having won a game."

The Czechs went through qualifying undefeated but were easily second best to Spain on Wednesday.

"They certainly got a bit of a runaround by the Spanish, I think, having watched the game," Pearce said. "But they've got three points in the bag, so that puts them in a stronger position in the group than we are at the moment."

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Topics:
Chris Smalling
Football
Championship
Danny Rose
Jordan Henderson
Premier League
Fabrice Muamba
Stuart Pearce
Michael Mancienne
Scott Sinclair
Henri Lansbury
Jack Rodwell
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