Pearce happy strongest team delivers

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Stuart Pearce is hopeful his England side have done enough to set up a place in the UEFA Under-21 Championship play-offs following last night’s victory in Azerbaijan.

Jonjo Shelvey scored one and set up another as the Young Lions won 2-0 in Baku to move to within touching distance of a two-leg showdown next month for a place in next summer’s finals.

Liverpool midfielder Shelvey’s first goal at this level followed Steven Caulker’s third to send Pearce’s men five points clear at the top of qualifying Group Eight with one match remaining.

That is on Monday against Norway, whose win in Belgium leaves them needing to beat England in Chesterfield in four days’ time to deny their rivals a place in next month’s two-legged play-offs.

Pearce said afterwards: “We are pleased to have won the match and hopefully that puts us in a situation that sees us in the play-offs.

“We gave our best. We’ve played better, but this was my strongest team available.”

Pearce handed a debut to Thomas Ince, son of former England star Paul.