Henderson talks up Pearce

  • Last Updated: September 7 2012, 20:58 BST

England Under-21 captain Jordan Henderson believes coach Stuart Pearce has a role to play with the senior squad despite being left out of the picture by national team boss Roy Hodgson.

Stuart Pearce: Out of the picture under Hodgson

Pearce has played an integral part of the coaching set-up in previous regimes and took charge of the side on a caretaker basis before Hodgson was brought in to replace Fabio Capello.

However, the former England left-back - who led Great Britain's Olympic team this summer - has not been handed a role in Hodgson's backroom since the former West Brom chief's arrival, and did not travel to Euro 2012.

Pearce has, however, continued his role as England Under-21 coach, with Thursday night's 2-0 victory in Azerbaijan securing their place in next month's European Championship play-offs.

And Henderson, who is himself on the fringes of the senior side, believes the respected coach is worthy of a place in the Wembley dug-out.

The Liverpool midfielder said: "He's been brilliant, to be honest. He always has been, since I've been in the Under-21 squad, and I'm sure all the players would say the same.

"He's a great inspiration and a great leader for everyone involved. For us, he's brilliant. And he's someone that we definitely look up to.

"Of course, he's definitely got a role (to play) in the senior team. It hasn't really got much to do with me, I don't know what goes on, but for us he's a great manager and a great leader."

The win in Baku ensured England will be in the hat to fight for a place at next summer's European Under-21 Championships.

But Henderson insists victory over Norway in Monday's final Group Eight game is vital in order to secure top spot and a better seeding in the play-off draw.

"Obviously it was a great win for us in Baku the other night to take us into a good position to finish top of the group if we can do the job against Norway on Monday," he said.

"So everyone was happy with that win but we've got another game to go before the play-offs and hopefully we can win that to top the group.

"We played some decent stuff and did the job."

Steven Caulker and Jonjo Shelvey scored the goals in a comfortable win for the Young Lions in Azerbaijan, where Blackpool midfielder Thomas Ince made his debut alongside fellow newcomer Ben Marshall.

And Henderson praised his introduction: "Tom did really well, as did everybody else.

"They've been brilliant in training and settled in really well, everyone's made them feel welcome.

"So if we can keep that going for Monday and get a result there, it would be brilliant."

Harry Kane and Tommy Lees were both night called up to the squad on Friday night.

Striker Kane, on loan at Norwich from Tottenham, and Leeds defender Lees make their inaugural appearances in the squad.

Pearce said: "It's a perfect opportunity for us to take a look at Tommy and Harry, and let them experience life with the Under-21s.

"Any experience at this level is invaluable for a young player, and I am sure they will take a lot from being with us and the rest of the squad, even for a few days."

  • Jordan Henderson and team-mates Ben Marshall and Adam Smith of the England Under-21 squad took part in a football skills festival for local children at the Tesco Extra in Lichfield. For more information about The FA Tesco Skills Programme and to find your nearest after school and free holiday courses, visit www.TheFA.com/TescoSkills.