Rodwell delivers for Pearce
England Under-21s coach Stuart Pearce described Jack Rodwell as showing maturity beyond his years during last night's draw against Germany in Halmstad. Rodwell's header ensured Pearce's youngsters go into their UEFA European Under-21 Championship semi-final on Friday as Group B winners, and they will probably play Sweden or Serbia in the last four.
Pearce made ten changes to his starting XI and Everton midfielder Rodwell, tipped to eventually play at centre-back, was among the newcomers who impressed at Orjans Vall.
"He was beyond his years," said Pearce. "I told him three weeks ago I need to hear his voice more, and I have heard him more and more.
"Performances like that will come from it. He's quiet, but strong mentally," he said. "Every day he has flourished more and more. He's a big bonus, but I expect that from him."
Pearce believes resting almost his entire team will make the difference later this week. 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.
This time around, they still have an almost fully-fit squad. Gabriel Agbonlahor's calf problem is the only concern for Friday's match in Gothenburg.
"Two years ago, Holland and Serbia both got to the final after resting players in their third group game," Pearce recalls. "So I think it is helpful.
"It saves your bookings and suspensions. If we'd got to the final two years ago we would have been on our knees," he said. " This time we go into a semi-final, we hope, with 23 fit players."
Pearce's changes, including Joe Lewis replacing Scott Loach in goal at half-time, mean every member of his squad has now played at the finals. They started slowly last night and fell behind to Gonzalo Castro's early goal, but got into their stride and finished strongly after Rodwell's equaliser.
"If those players from 12 to 23 don't support their team-mates, then you'll go home early," Pearce reasoned. "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," he said.
"It keeps us where we are, because we keep our base by playing in Gothenburg."