Writer: Peter Simcox
Date:Monday February 5 2007
Pride Park hosts international football again on Tuesday evening when England Under 21 play Spain in a friendly, and it means a return for former midfielder Tom Huddlestone, who is now at Tottenham and former Forest defender Stuart 'Psycho` Pearce who is the new Coach of the England youngsters.
The Spurs midfielder is looking forward to his return to Pride Park, as he began his career as a schoolboy with Derby and will never forget the progress he made through the ranks with the Rams.
Huddlestone said: 'Going back to Pride Park will be good for me and I am really looking forward to the game.
'It is a bit of a homecoming for me and it has been a while since I last played there. It should be a great night."
The talented midfielder`s last game on the Pride Park pitch wasn`t for the Rams, it was for Wolves, as he was loaned out by Spurs. He even scored in Wolves 3-0 victory on 19 November 2005.
Huddlestone believes Tuesday`s game is massive, he said: 'The Spain game will be a massive test for us. I played against them in the U17 tournament in 2003 and they had a fantastic side.
'I'm sure a lot of their players will play in this game, so we know how difficult it is going to be, but we believe in our own ability and are confident of getting the right result."
Huddlestone is hoping to make up for his England heartache four years ago, shortly after that game against Spain's U17s, and help the Three Lions triumph at UEFA European Under-21 Championship this summer.
The 20-year-old was part of the England team which reached the Semi-Finals in Portugal where they boasted a strong line-up and progressed to the last four of the competition. However, they were cruelly beaten by the host nation in a penalty shoot-out.
He said: 'At the time we had a great team which included the likes of Aaron Lennon, Steven Taylor and James Milner. We reached the Semi-Finals and were cruising against Portugal when they scored a late goal and the game went to penalties.
'It was then pot luck and they won the game. It is always disappointing to lose a game that way and the players were gutted.
'It would be nice to put that behind us if we can go all the way this summer. I think we are good enough to win the tournament but I'm sure there will be five or six teams going there with a real belief they can do that as well," he added.
Pearce arrives at Pride Park as a friend this time and not the enemy, after his days at Forest. He received a big welcome when he played in Ted McMinn`s testimonial game late last season, and I`ve still got that vision - 'Psycho in a Rams shirt`.
I`m sure he will receive a good reception from the crowd on Tuesday, but he has more worrying concerns as his squad has been hit by three withdrawals.
Blackburn striker Matt Derbyshire, (what a great name!!!!), is out with a thigh injury suffered in Saturday's draw with Sheffield United. Also Wigan full-back Leighton Baines and Middlesbrough striker Lee Cattermole have also been forced to withdraw.
Pearce has brought in Birmingham striker Cameron Jerome for the game, and with this being Pearce's first in charge of the side, he wanted to start with a victory.
Derbyshire had been one of three newcomers named in the squad along with Joe Hart and Gary Cahill.
Goalkeeper Hart is on loan at Tranmere from Manchester City, and Cahill has impressed in Aston Villa's defence. David Bentley, Kieran Richardson and Leroy Lita return to the squad but Anton Ferdinand is ruled out by injury.
Pearce is a very proud Englishman and he is delighted to Coach the side, he said: 'It is a fantastic honour for me. I was planning to attend the June tournament for scouting purposes and now I will have an opportunity of getting more out of the competition by working with the best youngsters in this country and pitting my wits against coaches from different nations.'
Pearce earned 78 caps for England between 1987 and 1999. He had a short spell as caretaker manager at Nottingham Forest in the 1996-97 season. Pearce joined the coaching staff at Manchester City in 2002 becoming caretaker manager in March 2005. He was formally appointed as manager in May 2005.
He will be assisted by Newcastle United First Team Coach Nigel Pearson
Over 20,000 tickets have been sold for the game on Tuesday, and tickets are still on sale now priced at £10 for adults and £5 for children and seniors.
They are available by calling 0870 444 1884, or on-line at - www.shopdcfc.co.uk - or in person at the Pride Park Stadium ticket office.
England U21 squad to face Spain: B Alnwick (Tottenham), S Carson (Charlton), J Hart (Man City); G Cahill (Aston Villa), C Davies (West Brom), J Hoyte (Arsenal), L Rosenior (Fulham), A Taylor (Middlesbrough), S Taylor (Newcastle); D Bentley (Blackburn), T Huddlestone (Tottenham), J Milner (Newcastle), N Reo-Coker (West Ham), K Richardson (Man Utd), W Routledge (Fulham); G Agbonlahor (Aston Villa); L Lita (Reading), D Nugent (Preston), T Walcott (Arsenal), A Young (Aston Villa), C Jerome (Birmingham).
Date:Monday February 5 2007
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