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Pearce explains fielding England U21 shadow XI

England U21 boss Stuart Pearce has explained why he played a shadow XI for last night's 1-1 draw with Euros opponent Germany.

Pearce's youngsters finished top of Group B after Jack Rodwell cancelled out Gonzalo Castro's early opener at Orjans Vall, with Spain heading home as a result.

England were knocked out at the last-four stage two years ago but would have been depleted through injuries and suspension if they made it to the final - but this time around they head into it with almost a full squad.

Gabriel Agbonlahor's calf problem is the only concern heading into Friday's clash in Gothenburg.

"Two years ago Holland and Serbia both got the final after resting players in their third group game," Pearce said. "So I think it is helpful.

"It saves your bookings and suspensions. If we got to the final two years ago we would have been on our knees. This time we go into a semi-final hopefully with 23 fit players."

Pearce's changes means every member of his squad has now played at the finals.

"If those players from 12 to 23 don't support their team-mates then you'll go home early," Pearce said. "They are all supporting each other, and that is what you have to do.

"You can do no more than win the group. We knew it was a tough group. Qualifying before the last game is sometimes difficult but I can assure everyone that the team was picked to win the match and I think we were the better side.

"It keeps us where we are because we keep our base by playing in Gothenburg."



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