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Pearce knows England U21 players must overcome fear ahead of playoff

England U21 boss Stuart Pearce knows nerves will be a factor as his players face a must-win game against the Czech Republic.

The 1990 side also had to win their final group match to qualify for the knockout stages, which they did before gradually developing into potential world champions.

So former England left-back Pearce urged his squad's critics to cut them some slack, saying: "I'm fortunate enough to have trodden the same path as these players.

"I've gone to a World Cup and into the first group game.

"You're scared stiff."

He added: "A few years before that, I was an electrician, so the experience had come on me very quickly.

"I had 20 senior caps going into that game but I didn't play particularly well.

"When I came in after the game, Bobby Robson looked at me and asked, 'Where is Stuart Pearce?'.

"I said I didn't know, that I hadn't played well and I was a bit nervous.

"He just turned around and told me that he had given me 20 caps not to be nervous.

"Even after the 20 caps and starting against Brazil in my first game, nothing prepares you for stepping out at a World Cup.

"For all these boys, this is the biggest tournament they have ever played in."

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