Stuart Pearce reflects on a tough night for his England U21 side in Serbia

Last Updated: 11/11/12 11:22am

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Stuart Pearce: Has paid tribute to his England U21 stars

Stuart Pearce: Has paid tribute to his England U21 stars

Sky Bet

Stuart Pearce has spoken of his pride at the manner in which his England U21 side handled a tough night in Serbia.

His Young Lions were subjected to racist abuse from the stands during a European Championship qualifier, while players and coaches from both sides became caught up in an ugly brawl at the final whistle.

England, though, did enough under testing circumstances to book their place at next summer's finals in Israel.

Pearce is now eager to focus on the positives heading forward, with his team to take in their first outing post-Serbia when they face Northern Ireland on Tuesday.

"When we were together as a squad a month ago, the players performed exceptionally well over the two-legged play-off against Serbia which secured qualification for the finals," he wrote in his programme notes for an international friendly due to be staged at Blackpool's Bloomfield Road home.

"It was a fantastic achievement.

"Winning both matches 1-0, against a side unbeaten throughout their qualifying group, and in front of a very provocative crowd in Serbia, is something that we shouldn't overlook.

"I am very proud of the way the players performed on the pitch and by the way they conducted themselves in such difficult circumstances."

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