Stuart Pearce denied his England side were under pressure to restore the pride of the nation at this month's European Under-21 Championship after watching them complete their pre-tournament preparations by beating Norway.
Pearce's Young Lions won their final warm-up game ahead of the finals in Denmark, cruising to a 2-0 victory at Southampton's St Mary's Stadium. The result came less than 24 hours after their senior counterparts toiled to a 2-2 draw against Switzerland at Wembley in their latest Euro 2012 qualifier.
Pearce's youngsters have an ideal chance during their two-week European Championship campaign to prove to disillusioned fans that there is real hope for the future. But the head coach, who is also assistant to England boss Fabio Capello, said: "I think there is pride at senior level personally."
He added: "We're probably three-quarters of the way though a qualification campaign at senior level. We're top of the group. From the outset of any tournament, you try to win the group and go on to the finals. If we win the remaining games, we win the group. What more can you do?"
Pearce did admit, however, that he would relish giving supporters something to shout about this summer. "I'm the manager of this young team, of course," he added.
Capello blamed England's sloppy display on Saturday on tiredness but Pearce rubbished suggestions his own players could feel fatigue in Denmark. Pearce, who saw Jack Wilshere pull out of his squad due to fears over burnout, joked: "No, no, we don't get tired, the Under-21s - it's quite incredible, it really is.
"Youthful enthusiasm, I think I call it. I come from the school of Brian Clough - 'We're fresher than they are' - and that was the mantra we always worked to. It's a state of mind. We look fresh, I think mentally fresh, and that's where I think it often springs from.
"If you're mentally fresh, you'll convince your body to do anything. That won't be a problem for us and that'll never be an excuse that I'll ever use as manager."
Pearce was mostly pleased with his youngsters on Sunday after watching them cruise to victory thanks to goals from Danny Rose and Daniel Sturridge. He said: "If I wound the clock back a week, let's say, and I was offered the week on the training pitch that the players have given me, a 2-0 victory, no injuries, I'd snap your hand off.
"The last friendly before a major tournament, it is on the players' minds, whether I like it or not and I don't think we've done historically fantastically well in friendly matches."
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