Pearce crushes renewed England optimism

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Football News

If England supporters were at all skeptical of the new era after the departure of Fabio Capello, those fears were confirmed by Stuart Pearce as he named his 25-man squad for next week's friendly with Holland.

After being promised all-change after the World Cup finals in 2010, and again after Capello's resignation, we've yet again been disappointed following the announcement of another squad lacking signs of development or excitement.

Capello's squad selections often reflected a manager very much stuck in his ways, a boss more likely to pick tried and tested players rather than those with the style and panache to take England forward.

Pearce, having guided the Under-21's through two major championships, has been among the country's brightest young talents; however, his decision to leave many of those out exposes a lack of belief in England's young players.

Only two uncapped players have been named in Pearce's squad; Tom Cleverley, who saw the originally organised friendly with Holland cancelled in August when first called up, and Fraizer Campbell, following his impressive form after an injury lay off.

The selection of Campbell is fair given his recent form, but if that's the prerequisite then why no Andy Carroll, who has finally turned the corner at Liverpool, or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the source of renewed optimism around the Emirates Stadium.

As a result we have a squad of 25 which we've seen before, and by and large, seen flatter to deceive before. Despite the monumental failure in Bloemfontein, eight players from the World Cup roster have scraped through. So much for moving on.

Albeit a successful double header, but just five changes have been made from Capello's last squad which saw off Spain and Sweden late last year. Pearce had the opportunity to blood some new faces in time for not only the summer finals, which could be followed by a raft of experienced heads retiring from international football, but beyond. He's instead chosen to stick with the same old faces.

We had reason to be encouraged as news filtered through surrounding the omission of several elder statesmen, but in reality, that revelation has turned out to be hopelessly misguided. With John Terry out injured, only Rio Ferdinand, whose injury problems mean he's forced to pick and choose his club outings, and Frank Lampard, whose irregular appearances for Chelsea call into question his remit to be included, have missed out.

Why Pearce feels the need to inspect the current form of Ashley Cole (93 caps), Wayne Rooney (73 caps), Gareth Barry (51 caps), Glen Johnson (35 caps) is unknown, while the inclusion of Joe Hart and Scott Parker, both of whom are among the most reliable, and therefore indispensable of England performers, also beggars belief.

Elsewhere, Stewart Downing, a flop in his early Liverpool days, and Adam Johnson, who has completed a full 90 minutes for City just 15 times in his 65 Premier League appearances, have made the cut.

This is being build as Pearce's opportunity to impress David Bernstein and co as they whittle down the names to succeed Capello. Instead of putting his own mark on the squad and setting a precedent for the future, he's cast England's philosophy for the future aside in exchange for enhancing his own reputation. One can only hope messieurs Bernstein, Brooking and Bevington aren't fooled into appointing this managerial pencil pusher.

His get out clause would surely have been to promote several of the faces from last summer's Under 21 squad, instead of retaining the old faces. The move would have been an attempt to mirror Germany's successful promotion of many of their Under 21 squad prior to the 2010 World Cup, which saw them reach the semi-finals in South Africa.

Granted, the pool available failed to reach the knock-out phase, but any observers of the Premier League this season will view that result to have been an underachievement. Six of that squad has been called up by Pearce, but if the ex-Nottingham Forest full-back think he's kidding anyone, all of them were selected by Capello.

You have to hope Pearce's naivety, rather than his attempts to mask over England depth of young players, is at the heart of this current selection. If not, then he, and England, deserve each other.

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