Pearce is pleased with spirit of Under-21s

Stuart Pearce has given an insight into what fans can expect at Carrow Road on Friday when his England Under-21s side take on Romania in first leg of a European Championship play-off.

The Under-21s boss – who has lost Manchester City's Micah Richards, Huddersfield Town goalkeeper Alex Smithies and Arsenal defender and former Canaries loan player Kieran Gibbs to injury – says his team can cope with the high pressure situation.

'There's been a great team spirit within the squad this season and the results have been pleasing as well,' said Pearce, who is hoping that the team spirit that helped them through the final stages of the group phase with wins over Portugal and Lithuania last month will spur his side on.

'Now we're in the situation of a play-off after the pressure of last month's games, but I think that will stand them in good stead for these games against Romania.

'It's a level playing field now. Romania will be just like us and desperate to get to the finals.


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'Romania will be a very direct counter-attacking team and very incisive and very quick.

'They try to get balls in behind very early when they turn over possession and technically they are a good side. They've proved how good they are by making fairly light work of their group, so credit to them for that. Defensively they had one blip when they lost to Latvia 5-1, but they won eight out of the other nine games. So that says something about them.'

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Pearce, who yesterday drafted Manchester City defender Kieran Trippier – currently on loan at Barnsley – into what is now a squad of 21, is looking to guide his charges to a third successive Under-21s Championship and would love to go one better than last time out after a runners-up spot in Sweden 2009 followed a semi-final place in Holland two years earlier.

The second leg of the play-off is in the northern Romanian town of Botosani next Tuesday afternoon, but for now it's all about Carrow Road.

'I'm sure there'll be a good crowd at Norwich to support us, as they have done in the past, and it's a lovely part of the world to be in,' said Pearce.

'They are a passionate crowd and the club is on the up again. I remember the times when they were in Europe and playing against the likes of Bayern Munich, but they have always had that pedigree and the fans have remained loyal even in the bad times. My mum and dad used to live near Norwich, so it was their local club and I know the area very well.'

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