STUART PEARCE has urged his England Under-21s team to win the European Championship trophy for Newcastle defender Steven Taylor who misses the competition through injury.

Pearce revealed that Taylor was “devastated” when his nagging Achilles problem forced his captain to withdraw from the tournament that kicks-off in Sweden tonight.

After ending his club season in miserable circumstances the Newcastle centrehalf suffered a further blow when the injury that plagued him in the latter stages of the campaign robbed him of chance to appear on the international stage.

Pearce is expected to include Middlesbrough winger Adam Johnson in the side facing Finland with club-mate Andrew Taylor also in the squad. But the manager admitted his team will miss the inspirational qualities of the Magpies defender.

“He is absolutely crestfallen,”

explained Pearce. “When he came to see me and we took the decision he wasn’t going to make it to Sweden you could see how devastated he was. I’m devastated for the lad because I know how much he loves playing football and loves playing for the national side.

“Steven was our leader and we are going to try and win the trophy for him. He is very much the central heart beat of the side, just as any team needs someone like that.

When you lose your skipper it’s tough. It gives other players a chance but Steven Taylor was very much the rock of which the team was built.”

England have been drawn in a tough group with fixtures against Germany and jointfavourites Spain following today’s 5.15pm tournament curtain-raiser.

Former Middlesbrough midfielder Lee Cattermole also features in a competition that offers Europe’s best young players a chance to showcase their talents.

Pearce added: “All we can do is perform to the best of our abilities, get a bit of luck with us, and who knows, we may come back with the trophy. I know Steven Taylor would be the happiest man in the world if we won it for him.”

England squad: Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Man City), Joe Lewis (Peterborough United), Scott Loach (Watford).

Defenders: Martin Cranie (Portsmouth), Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal), Michael Mancienne (Chelsea), Nedum Onuoha (Man City), Micah Richards (Man City), Andrew Taylor (Middlesbrough), Richard Stearman (Wolves), James Tomkins (West Ham).

Midfielders: Lee Cattermole (Wigan), Andrew Driver (Hearts), Craig Gardner (Aston Villa), Adam Johnson (Middlesbrough), James Milner (Aston Villa), Fabrice Muamba (Bolton), Mark Noble (West Ham), Jack Rodwell (Everton), Danny Rose (Tottenham).

Forwards: Theo Walcott (Arsenal) Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa), Frazier Campbell (Man United).