Pearce calls up quartet

England under-21 coach Stuart Pearce watches the action at the KC Stadium
Image: Pearce: Four new faces

England Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce has called four new players for next week's friendly against Uzbekistan.

England Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce has called four new players into his squad for next week's friendly against Uzbekistan. Blackburn central defender Phil Jones and Liverpool full-back Martin Kelly plus Aston Villa midfielder Marc Albrighton and Sunderland's Jordan Henderson have been included in Pearce's 19-man squad. The Uzbekistan game on 10th August at Ashton Hate is England's only warm-up leading into their European Championship qualifiers against Portugal and Lithuania in September. Pearce confirmed Henderson would have been involved in the Under 21s last season had injury not intervened.

Notable omissions

As well as four newcomers there are also notable omissions, which could provide a pointer towards Fabio Capello's thinking ahead of England's senior international against Hungary the following day. Teenage midfielder Jack Wilshere, who has made such an impression for Arsenal during pre-season, is absent along with Sunderland's Lee Cattermole and Manchester City defender Micah Richards. Newcastle's latest recruit Dan Gosling is also missing, although Everton's highly-rated midfielder Jack Rodwell, who has tipped for senior honours in the near future, has been retained in the Under 21s. Manchester City winger Adam Johnson and Arsenal wide-man Theo Walcott have also been omitted, probably with a view to them being involved against Hungary. The Under 21s lost to Greece in March and need to beat both Portugal and Lithuania to qualify for the play-offs. "We're looking forward to playing again after sitting on a defeat for five months. The defeat to Greece put us in a difficult position in the group so we need to be ready," said Pearce. "It's given us a lot of planning time, so to have a friendly next week is great for us. Going into two important, must-win games next month without this game first would be unthinkable. "It's not just good for fitness, but to have a look at some new players and tactics. It will also provide one or two players with a chance to stake a claim for the new season. "Henderson would have been with us in March but he picked up an injury which ruled him out. "Phil Jones did fantastically well at the back end of last season at Blackburn. Anyone who gets in and plays in the Premier League has got to be taken seriously. He's still a very young player. "I caught Marc Albrighton at the end of last season and Steve Wigley saw him again this season. He did extremely well on both occasions and thoroughly deserves to be with us. "Martin Kelly has played for Liverpool in this pre-season and I also saw him with the younger age groups, so it's a great opportunity for him."

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