Stuart Pearce tonight declared his latest crop of England Under-21 stars had exceeded all of his expectations as they aim to maintain their 100% start to European Championship qualifying on Monday.

England's next generation of Young Lions have stormed to the top of Group Eight, despite Pearce having declared at the start of qualifying that reaching next summer's finals would be the toughest challenge of his four years as head coach.

A win in Belgium would put England within touching distance of a play-off spot, eight points clear of second-placed Norway and 10 ahead of their next opponents, and Pearce said: "We've put ourselves in a situation now that, if we beat them tomorrow [Monday] night, we probably put them out of the competition with regard to the points they can achieve and, historically, the amount of points you need to get out of the group."

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