Football

Pearce wants Walcott for U21s

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England Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce will push for Theo Walcott to be included in the squad for next year's European Championships if his youngsters defeat Wales in a play-off.

Walcott is expected to be in the seniors next month after scoring a hat-trick in Wednesday's 4-1 win over Croatia, while the Under-21s face the Welsh in a two-legged tie to reach next year's finals in Sweden.

"Come next summer, our last senior match is on June 10, after that everyone will be available to play in the under-21 tournament, no matter what experience they've had in the seniors during the season," Pearce said.

"The main thing is whether it is right for the player. Giving the player the experience of a tournament is absolutely crucial, that has been driving us from the first game of the qualification campaign."

Pearce took England to the semi-finals of the 2007 finals, where they were defeated by Holland after a marathon penalty shoot-out.

Walcott missed the finals with a shoulder injury but played a central role for the Under-21s last season before getting moved up back up to the seniors.

Players such as Joe Hart, Aaron Lennon and Gabriel Agbonlahor have had experience with the seniors but also play for Pearce.

"From my point of view, Fabio's been very supportive and has given me the strongest possible sides," Pearce said. "For the last game, against Portugal, he could comfortably have taken three or four of my squad for the seniors in my opinion.

"He's very aware he wants to keep me with the strongest squad possible and hopefully that will be the case next month."

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Topics:
Internationals
Joe Hart
Gabriel Agbonlahor
Football
Aaron Lennon
Stuart Pearce
Theo Walcott
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