England U21 boss Pearce asks fans to get Carrow Road rocking
Stuart Pearce has issued a rally-cry to the region's football supporters, to head for Carrow Road and support England Under-21s in their quest for European glory next week.
The Young Lions are heading to Norwich a week on Friday to take on Romania in the first leg of their play-off encounter, hoping to secure a place at next summer's Uefa 2011 Under-21 European Championship Finals in Denmark. With tickets already selling well, Pearce is hoping for a 26,000 full-house for what will be one of the biggest international fixtures ever hosted by the Canaries.
'The magnitude of the game for us dictates that we need a big crowd and a big vocal crowd,' said former England hero Pearce.
'The club have got quite a catchment area and they always draw a solid crowd to Carrow Road. Whenever we have taken teams there before, certainly in the recent past, we've had good results and a good turn-out crowd-wise, with a good atmosphere.
'There's no doubt we're playing a very good side and it'll be a fantastic night with all at stake.'
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The England squad will be meeting up in Norwich on Monday and preparing at City's Colney training centre throughout the week.
'Norwich is such a great, friendly place,' said Pearce, whose parents lived on the Norfolk-Suffolk border.
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'The playing surface is always fantastic at Norwich, and it has been for many years. All things considered it's a fantastic venue for us, in such an important game for us as well. We're looking forward to it and will be training at Norwich's training ground, which is another lovely training surface.
'With Paul Lambert in there they look as though they're a club on the up at the moment and they're in the play-off positions as we speak.'
Pearce's youngsters qualified for the play-offs with two wins from their final group games, as they triumphed in Portugal and at home to Lithuania at Colchester. Anything less from his side would have meant them crashing out at the first hurdle, just as previous winners Germany have done.
Now, the England head coach is hopeful of replicating success in two more crucial fixtures.
'Having come off the back of two must-win games we're back in the process of playing two more must-win games,' added Pearce. 'It's all set up for us.'
Pearce is also pleased with the progress of many of his young players, as the domestic season is now well and truly up and running.
'At the start of the season you're thinking, where are our players going to get their football from and then all of a sudden the likes of Tom Cleverley goes to Wigan on loan, Chris Smalling has been getting games for Manchester United, Michael Mancienne moves to Wolverhampton, Ryan Bertrand to Nottingham Forest and Kyle Walker to QPR. Quite a few of our players, all of a sudden, are getting football.
'There's a lot of our players getting first team football where I think we suffered a little bit in the last trip where one or two of the players were lacking that match fitness and fatigue set in during the second game because they hadn't played regularly.'