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Pearce backs Blackburn's Bentley to win over England fans

England U21 boss Stuart Pearce is confident fans will get behind Blackburn midfielder David Bentley after he was booed on Saturday.

Bentley was jeered on his senior debut for leaving Pearce a man down during the European Championships this summer, and the Blackburn winger is too old for the 2009 campaign.

Pearce's youngsters emerged from the Holland finals with huge credit and there were suggestions in the camp that it was Bentley who missed out, with England fans then turning on their latest debutant.

"They probably made a little point of dissatisfaction but I'm sure come the next game when he gets on the pitch, that will be put behind him," said Pearce.

Pearce is preparing the under-21s for their qualifier in Bulgaria the evening before Bentley could be given another chance, with the seniors playing Russia on Wednesday.

"I fully expect England supporters to be right behind him and I've got my fingers crossed he will go on and have a good international career because I think he's a good player and I think he has got the tools to be an international player," added Pearce, whose youngsters kicked off their campaign with a win in Montenegro on Friday.

Pearce saw enough in two under-21 friendlies last season to suggest Bentley will bounce back.

He added: "The better players have always got a little bit of strength in character when there's a little bit of adversity, the game is going against you, they're able to say 'give me the ball'. I saw a bit of that in him."

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