Stuart Pearce praises Derby County midfielder Will Hughes after naming U21 squad
STUART Pearce has praised the form of Derby County midfielder Will Hughes this season after naming him in the latest England Under-21 squad.
The 17-year-old's second under-21 call-up was confirmed yesterday ahead of Tuesday night's friendly against Sweden at Walsall.
Hughes made his debut for Pearce's side against Northern Ireland in November – becoming the second youngest player to represent England at that level after Theo Walcott. The Rams academy product has been a key member of Nigel Clough's first team this season – and Pearce is a fan.
"Will Hughes is a real talent in the Championship and he's exciting to watch," said the former England defender.
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"We have to make sure he doesn't play too many games as he's still young but he's worthy of his place in that Derby team as he makes them tick."
Manchester United defender Phil Jones has been recalled to the under-21 squad after his comeback from injury.
And there is a first call-up for Southampton left-back Luke Shaw.
The under-21s will prepare for the Sweden game at St George's Park near Burton, along with Roy Hodgson's senior squad.
"It has been nearly three months since we were last together as a squad, so we are looking forward to meeting up again at St George's Park to spend time working on our preparations for what will be an important year," said Pearce, who is looking ahead to the European Championships in June.
Derby will have a total of 10 players on international duty next week: Richard Keogh, Jeff Hendrick, Conor Sammon (Republic of Ireland), Jamie Ward (Northern Ireland), Theo Robinson (Jamaica), Hughes, Mark O'Brien (Republic of Ireland Under-21s), Kieron Freeman (Wales Under-21s), Valentin Gjokaj (Albania Under-21s) and Mason Bennett (England Under-17s).
But there was no place for Rams player of the year Craig Bryson in new manager Gordon Strachan's first Scotland squad, which was announced yesterday.
Tickets for England Under-21s' match at Walsall are priced at £10 for adults and £5 for children, while a family ticket (two adults and two children) is £20.
They can be booked by calling 01922 651416, emailing email@example.com or via Walsall Football Club's website.