Disappointment abounded again tonight for anyone hoping to see Thomas Carroll progress in his attempts to break onto the international stage for England by collecting U21 minutes, as the young playmaker wasn't even included on the bench Pearce for a pre-European championship friendly against Austria. Andros Townsend, Danny Rose and Adam Smith all made influential appearances, however, as England overcame an opposition side that was reduced to ten and then nine men in a comfortable 4-0 victory.
Of the three, Townsend once turned in arguably the brightest performance, starting on the right flank in line with the role that he has played on loan at QPR this season. His game was characterized by a succession of strong driving runs, and he managed to mix his frequent forays inside to shoot with a healthy number of key passes to team mates. The most satisfying aspect of his game throughout the full 90 minutes he played, undoubtedly, was the wide variety of ways he mixed up his delivery, experimenting with cutbacks, lofted through balls and crosses in order to provide service to target man Connor Wickham.
His exuberance did get the better of him once or twice, most notable in the 30th minute when a misplaced long pass was intercepted allowing Austria to mount a quick counterattack that nearly gifted the opposition a goal, and his occasionally heavy touch also led him to overcook a wonderful chance when he was slipped through on goal right at the start of the second half. Overall, however, Townsend's confidence and killer instinct made him a handful for the opposition defence once again, and ensured that he remained the main source of danger for much of the tie.
Danny Rose, meanwhile, rounded off another confident performance at left-back with a crucial goal-line clearance in the 17th minute that prevented England from having to chase a goal right at the time when the game was finely balanced. Both he and Smith, who entered as a half-time substitute, were as solid as ever going forwards as they were checking opposition threats down the flanks, Smith in particular mounting England's offensive threat through another delightful display of carefully-considered movement into space and quick passing. Though Pearce also gave Jack Robinson, Andre Wisdom, Tom Lees spells at full-back on the night, it looks as if the Spurs men shouldn't struggle to defend their currently unassailable parallel places in the U21 side as preparations for the upcoming Championship. Here's hoping that our young English Xavi can somehow find the minutes to convince the manager to let him come along for the ride.