England U21’s hopes of winning the 2013 European Championships this summer will be sky high after Stuart Pearce’s side demolished Sweden 4-0 in Walsall during a friendly on Tuesday.
Although the Euros are still four months away, this squad will take great confidence from their performance that saw them dominate a Sweden side who comfortably won qualifying group B before losing to Italy in a two-legged playoff last October.
The man of the moment – as he has been all season – was Tom Ince, Blackpool’s spirited winger-come-striker who terrorised Sweden’s defence with two clinical finishes. Jonjo Shelvey also got on the scoresheet, while Connor Wickham is making a name for himself at U21 level with a header late on.
It was a performance that will greatly impress not only boss, Pearce, but also England manager, Roy Hodgson, who is still developing the first team into a unit capable of qualifying and possibly winning the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Fans betting on football should expect Ince to be in the first-team squad by next summer, and success at this year’s European Championships can only help the 21-year-old’s aspirations.
England are in a tough group with Italy, Norway, and Israel yet have now won their last seven matches and lost just once since June 2011. Over this two-year period Pearce has developed a strong side genuinely capable of winning silverware and their dominance over Sweden proved this team is the real deal.
The players have just one more fixture – against Wales in March – to prove themselves before Pearce picks his 2013 Euro squad. With competition rife throughout the squad, each player will put his all into every opportunity handed to them – a spirit that could make the difference at this summer’s Euros.
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