Pearce braced for Norway test

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England Under-21s manager Stuart Pearce is expecting his toughest test yet when his side face Norway in Monday night's European Championship qualifier in Drammen.

Pearce's side are top of Group Eight after two games and travel to Norway to play their second match in five days on the back of Thursday's 3-0 win in Iceland, secured thanks to an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain hat-trick. England U21s last played Norway in a friendly prior to Euro 2011, winning 2-0 at Southampton in June, but Pearce insists there is no comparison with the side they will face.

"This isn't the Norway side of the last time we came here and it's not even the Norway side we played prior to the Championship," Pearce told "They have some very good players and it'll be a tough test for us."

Thursday's win came at a cost, as Nathan Delfouneso and Martyn Waghorn sustained hamstring injuries which have ruled them out of the clash and Martin Kelly returned to Liverpool as a precaution after feeling a tightness in his groin.

Despite this, Pearce looks unlikely to recall Manchester United duo Danny Welbeck and Phil Jones and Tottenham's Kyle Walker from England's senior side.

Norway only sit behind England on goal difference after winning their first two games away from home against Iceland and Azerbaijan.

Pearce added: "They've won both of their games on the road so far in the group so arguably they can say they are the best in the group. But we know that if we can get a good result here it'll put us in a strong position.

"It's very unforgiving, this group, and they are on home soil and will want to win it to back up two victories on the road. It's a tough game for us."

It will be the first time Pearce's side will play a competitive match on a 4G artificial pitch, which comes with its own challenges.

"It's our first time on [the 4G]. We've trained on it today, we'll train on it tomorrow and then it's obviously the game, so by the time it comes round we'll be used to it," he said. "Usually [teams] only let you come on a grass pitch for an hour the night before a fixture, but for this one we've had the opportunity to have two good sessions on this."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Tottenham Hotspur
Phil Jones
Danny Welbeck
Manchester United
Stuart Pearce
Nathan Delfouneso
Martyn Waghorn
Kyle Walker
Martin Kelly

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