Pearce slams Bale, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jones over international withdrawals

The 51-year-old name-checked the trio as players who opted against call-ups to the England U21s and Team GB, citing apathy and “the golden ivory towers” of the senior set-up

Former England Under-21 head coach Stuart Pearce has hit out at Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Phil Jones, claiming withdrawals from his Young Lions squads stifled progress on all levels of the national set-up.

The 51-year-old, who was sacked from his role after overseeing defeats in all three of England’s Euro 2013 group games, also bemoaned Gareth Bale’s late decision to pull out of the Olympic squad last summer.

He told La Liga Weekly: “In our wildest dreams, do you honestly think England, or any national team in the world, can turn up at a major tournament without eight players who have senior caps that didn’t come who could have played for the Under-21s this summer?

“The odd one was through injury, but apathy played a big part in it. The Oxlade-Chamberlains of this world, the Phil Joneses, they didn’t want to come. Once they go through the golden ivory towers of the seniors, they don’t want to come and play in the Under-21s any more.

“No national team in the world can suffer that. Until we solve that problem, however we solve it, if it’s a case of stopping players going into the seniors because they don’t want to step down, like the Spanish boys do and are happy to do.

“Our boys, for whatever reason, be it the power of the Premier League, the finance they get at such a young age, whatever it may be, there is a lack of real passion to want to play for your country no matter what. We have to solve that problem and give them international experience.

“We’re really judged on how the senior team do, that’s what England are judged on. My mentality, having been involved for six years, is the senior team will never win anything unless they start winning things, like Spain, like France, like Germany did at the young age groups.

“Spain didn’t just pitch up and win the World Cup and European Championship. They started winning at Under-19s, Under-21s and, all of a sudden, those players who know what it’s like to win together, they end up winning together at senior level.”

Pearce also criticised Bale for pulling out of the Team GB side which took part in the 2012 Olympic Games: “We had a situation with Gareth Bale going into the Olympic Games. I was going to put squad out on Friday morning, then on Thursday he says his back hurts and he pulls out of the squad. Then, he plays first match for Spurs pre-season on the day we play our first Olympic game.

“We have the brightest talent in Britain at the time, and he didn’t want to play in Olympic Games. He’s not alone either, there was a couple of other players.

“Because of the media hype perhaps, maybe there was fear. But ask some of the other boys in the squad, like Craig Bellamy and Ryan Giggs about what they thought of the Olympics and they will tell you it was one of their best experiences on a football pitch.”

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