Stuart Pearce has hit out at Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Phil Jones for refusing to play for the England Under-21 side in the summer. 

Both players were key players for the Young Lions, but once they had tasted playing time with the senior side, they didn't want to drop back down a level. 

Pearce finally lost his job as Under-21s' manager after a dismal European Championships this summer, as his side lost all three of their group games. They crashed out of the tournament without any points on the board, and Pearce blames this on being forced to select an under-strength side.

Pearce expressed his concerns to Sky Sports, "In our wildest dreams, do you honestly think that England or any nation in the world can turn up at a major tournament without six or seven," he said.

"I think there were eight players with senior international caps that didn't actually come who could have played for the Under-21s this summer.

"The odd one was injury. Apathy played a big part in it. The Oxlade-Chamberlains of this world, the Phil Joneses. If they didn't want to come, once they go through the golden ivory towers of the seniors, they don't want to come and play in the Under-21s any more.

"There's no nation in the world that could suffer that. However we solve that - if it's a case of stopping players going into the seniors because they don't want to step down - like the Spanish boys do, and they're happy to do so.

"Our boys, for whatever reason - the powers, the Premier League, the finance they get at such a young age, the lack of real passion to play for your country - no matter what... we have to solve that problem."

Gareth Southgate, the new Young Lions manager, has had a positive start to his tenure. A 1-0 win over Moldova and a 1-1 draw with Finland saw the Under-21s side take four points from a possible six and things are looking positive.

New boss Southgate has already stamped his authority on his side, vowing to take a different approach to previous managers.

I'm under a little less pressure for results, although we want to get them in the habit of winning," Southgate told the BBC.

"But winning alone is not our aim. They've got to learn to win a certain way to be of use to the seniors."

"There's an opportunity to play in a certain style that will prepare these youngsters for when they go into the senior team."

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Phil Jones
England Football
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
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World Cup