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Stuart Pearce Looking For Strong Performance from England U21s Against Sweden

26/6/2009
England U21 manager Stuart Pearce has called for his players to produce an improved performance when they face the Sweden U21s tonight, despite the team having made it through the group stages undefeated.

Pearce, who will have a fully-fit squad to choose from ahead of this evening’s fixture, promised fans that “there is more to come” from his team and that “all 23 players can improve” as the tournament reaches its business end.

The Young Lions successfully navigated their way through a group that included a much-fancied Spain side – who they comfortably beat 2-0 – Germany and Finland, avoiding defeat in all three games and only conceding two goals.

Sweden, meanwhile, were in similarly impressive form in their own group, which included Italy, Serbia and Belarus, only narrowly losing to the Italians and scoring nine goals along the way to qualification for the knock-out round.

With the winner facing either Italy or Germany in the final, a victory for England would give Pearce the chance to exorcise the demons of going out on penalties to Holland in the quarter-final stage of the last Euro tournament and present them with the opportunity to win their first international silverware since 1984.

However, Sweden defender Martin Olsson has attempted to unsettle England’s preparations ahead of tonight’s semi in Gothenberg by claiming that forward Theo Walcott is “overrated” after his fairly anonymous performance in the opening game against Finland.

“It's the players around [Walcott] that feed him and make him good, so if we can shut them down, I think we can prevent him from getting those passes,” the Blackburn Rovers defender said.
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