Pearce - More stars to come

Young Lions coach tips Barkley to take next step

Stuart Pearce: Believes more U21s can make the step up to the senior squad

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England Under 21s coach Stuart Pearce says there are more young stars waiting in the wings to make the step up to Fabio Capello's senior squad.

The manager saw eight of his former Young Lions feature in Saturday's friendly at Wembley as England beat world and European champions Spain 1-0.

Debutant Jack Rodwell impressed during that encounter and Pearce has backed 17-year-old Everton team-mate Ross Barkley to follow him into the England midfield.

The U21s will face Belgium in a Euro 2013 qualifying clash on Monday night and Pearce says he has plenty of talent at his disposal.

"It's fantastic for the players," he told The Sun. "And no matter who steps up to the seniors, we seem to keep producing a replacement and they are flourishing. We are all delighted about that."

"Every time we get a player going through the Under 21s and into the full squad it is fantastic for them and for us.

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"I normally have a count up of who has come through the Under 21s when the senior squad is picked and that is a nice feeling.

"The players really buy into the Under 21s.

"They see it as their second club and part of the reason for that is they can see that they can move up to the seniors. There is a route there."

Pearce, who doubles as a member of Capello's coaching team, added: "I like to think that someone like Ross will follow Jack into the senior squad.

"Ross can now have a look at Jack and say 'Right, he has come through the system. He has been in the Under 21s for around three seasons and has now made the step up to the seniors'.

"I am sure Jack will come back down to the Under 21s before going up to the seniors again. But he is a great role model and not just for the players at Everton, like Ross. He is a role model for all of them."