Brian Eastick Looks Ahead to Riverside U21s
By Rob Nichols
Wednesday 29 Feb 2012 15:21:00
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With England Under 21s manager Stuart Pearce away on full international duty Brian Eastick has stepped up to take charge of tonight's vital Euro U21s qualifier at the Riverside. Kick off 6pm.

Brian fielded questions at a press conference that followed a training session at the Riverside yesterday and talked about the challenge young England face of overcoming Belgium, a side that defeated us in Belgium last year.

This is a vital qualifier and Brian Eastick appears very confident that the England side has enough quality to defeat Belgium and go into pole position for qualification for the tournament this summer. The rest of this article is transcript from Brain Eastick's press conference, yesterday.

Belgium are a good team they have got 3 or 4 very good individual players. We in fact controlled the game (when they beat us at home) for long periods of time and got ourselves into a good position at 1-0. I have to say even at 1-1 I didn't fear that we were in danger of losing the game but in any game of football if you lose concentration or make an unforced error. You concede a goal from a set-play or it could be a dubious refereeing decision, it can change the game. For sure we need to be a bit more creative in the final third of the pitch tomorrow that's for sure and create a few more chances. But we also need to be very aware of their ability to counter attack because they have got one or two very good players.

So, although the team talk will be about being positive, playing through the pitch and trying to create chances, there will also be a message to the players that they need to be careful of the counter attack because they have got 2 or 3 very good players.

If we play at our best I am very confident we can win this game.

Two debutants. Cameron Stewart has been in the system before. He played in the Under 20 team that played a friendly against France at Shrewsbury. Unfortunately he then got injured and had he not got injured I would definitely have tried to take him to the World Cup in Columbia which would have been a good experience for him. I think he has performed consistently for Hull City this year and he deserves this opportunity. Stuart has seen him play on several occasions this year, I haven't but looking at him in training for the past two days he is looking a very good young prospect.

Wilfried Zaha - I have seen quite a lot at Crystal Palace this year. Again he is quite an exciting player, he has got a lot of individual skill and he has improving all the time with his performances with Crystal Palace at club level and again deserves the opportunity.

I think they have got that individualistic ability to beat players and do something a bit special on the ball which is something we should encourage our young players to do more of. They are also good team players as well. I think if selected tomorrow I don't think they will let England down at all.

There are some very talented players in this Under 21 group so I'm sure that one or two of them will definitely be in the frame for the full European Championships.

Stuart hasn't given me direction or instruction because I am involved with Stuart with the Under 21s so I am very familiar with the players. I think the key word has been continuity. Stuart is the manager of the Under 21 team. I am not the manager. But obviously I regard this as a privilege to be standing in for him on this occasion. But yes he has an influence I spoke to him Monday afternoon I will speak to him again this (Tuesday) afternoon and we will discuss who has done what in training and a little bit about how we are going to play against Belgium on Wednesday. So it is very much his team still and the thing I have tried to install into all the players is that it is Business as usual and continuity is the key word.

Phil Neville is very much here as Stuart's guest. He invited Phil to come and spend the whole duration of this get together/event with us. He is the sort of person who is definitely going to stay in the game when he decides to retire. He has played at the highest level for a long, long time. He has got 58 or 59 England caps. So it has been of benefit to the young players to have someone of his experience around them. Obviously David Moyes is keen for him to keep fit so he has joined in a couple of times and we have given him a few bits and pieces to do on technical side too. It has been a pleasure to have him here and I think he has really enjoyed it.

He is somebody that players can relate to because he has played at the very highest level. I have encouraged him to mix with the players and so some one on ones with the players. He did a bit of work this morning with the defending. I encouraged him to join in and he brought one or two very valid points up. To have someone of his playing experience here is of benefit to all the young players.

(photos- Tracy Hyman)

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