O’Neill watches Sunderland pair for England U21s

Danny Rose
Danny Rose
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MARTIN O’NEILL was at his former club Wycombe Wanderers last night to watch Sunderland duo Danny Rose and Connor Wickham in action for England Under-21s.

But while O’Neill will have been encouraged to see Rose boost his match fitness, there was little opportunity to gauge the impact of Wickham after the striker was restricted to a late outing as an 88th-minute substitute.

Rose was used more extensively by U21 boss Stuart Pearce after enjoying a productive opening 45 minutes before being replaced at the interval by Wolves’ on-loan Liverpool left-back Jack Robinson.

It was Robinson who got the second goal for England in a comfortable 3-0 victory over Romania, with Wilfried Zaha and Nathan Delfouneso also on target for Pearce’s men.

A half for Rose will have proved beneficial for the on-loan Spurs left-back though, after only returning to the Sunderland starting XI for last Sunday’s draw with Norwich City.

The 22-year-old also had the chance to solidify his place for the summer’s European Championships, although Pearce insists the defender’s place has never been in doubt.

Rose missed February’s friendly win over Sweden with a hamstring injury and will be suspended for the opening game of the Euros in June after being sent off in October’s infamous play-off victory in Serbia.

But Pearce has confirmed that Rose is in his plans for the summer tournament in Israel after shining at both domestic and international level this season.

“Rose is suspended for the first game of the European Championships, so we’ll have to start with another left-back, but he is too important to leave out of the squad,” said Pearce.

“Two years ago I was prepared to take Tom Huddlestone, who had a two-game suspension.

“We also have Tom Ince missing for the first game, but the only way I’d leave someone out of the squad is if they were suspended for all three group games.”

Wickham is also almost certain to go to the Euros too, despite being restricted to a brief outing last night.

The 19-year-old had netted four times in the five games before last night and is expected to be handed a longer run-out in Monday’s friendly against Austria, at Brighton.

Meanwhile, rookie Sunderland keeper Jordan Pickford was in goal for England U19s in last night’s 1-0 victory over Turkey.

It was a sixth U19s cap for Pickford, who is approaching the end of a month-long spell with Alfreton Town, albeit the Blue Square Premier outfit are hopeful of extending his loan until the end of the season.