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Pearce furious with Blackburn's Bentley

England U21 boss Stuart Pearce admits he's furious with Blackburn Rovers midfielder David Bentley over his decision to pull out of the European Championships squad yesterday.

He said: "To say I'm disappointed is a massive understatement."

Revealing the role he played in Bentley's elevation to the senior squad for the recent games with Brazil and Estonia, Pearce said: "I don't agree with what he has done. I told him I don't agree with it in any way, shape or form. I feel as though I've been supportive to him.

"He wasn't in the Under 21 side when I took over the job. I put him in and I thought he was arguably one of our best players in the two matches we had him.

"With that in mind, I rang Steve McClaren and said: 'This kid's doing quite well. Keep an eye on him'."

Bentley, 22, has played 56 games this season but it cut no ice with Pearce, particularly with Under 21 colleagues David Nugent of Preston also playing 56 times and Newcastle's James Milner clocking up 60 games.

Pearce added: "I had an inkling on Wednesday when Blackburn boss Mark Hughes mentioned that he'd like to pull the boy out. I replied no.

"David said to me on the back of a long season and with possible burn-out next season, that he'd like to pull himself out. It means everything to play for England - when it suits.

"For me, representing your country is not about what suits you, it's about what suits your country, whether it be on the sporting field, whether it be in the armed forces. When your country comes calling, you put them first and yourself second, but I'm obviously from a different generation to him.

"I did ask him: 'Where does that leave you next summer if you get in the full squad and have a full season? Do you say I'm going to be fatigued for the next season?'"

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Tribal Football Staff

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