STUART Pearce expects more improvement from Callum McManaman and admits the Wigan winger’s absence from last summer’s European Under-21 Championships was a huge blow to the Young Lions’ hopes of success.
McManaman has been catapulted back into the public domain after England boss Roy Hodgson claimed the youngster is one of the few players who could force their way into his World Cup plans after making no contribution in the qualification campaign.
The view was more startling given McManaman has not been a regular starter in the Championship this season after taking time to recover from an ankle injury suffered at Arsenal in May that ended his hopes of being part of Pearce’s Under-21 squad.
Yet Pearce remains a huge fan of the 22-year-old, and knows there is still much more to come from him.
Pearce said: “Callum is only a young man and the injury he had will take him time to fully recover from. Without a doubt he can improve even more.
“People forget I went to the Under-20 World Cup in 2012 and worked with him then, so I had that connection with him. I knew what the kid was like and I knew how well he had done.
“The natural progression was the Under-21s and we monitored him a fair bit at Wigan but he never actually pushed into the first team or went on loan so we didn’t have an opportunity to have a good close look.
“Then all of a sudden he has come on the scene at the back end of last season.
“He was a big miss for us in the summer. He would have had a real impact at the tournament.”
For Owen Coyle’s reaction to the England speculation surrounding McManaman, see Friday’s Wigan Evening Post.
* Stuart Pearce was speaking at Basford United in Nottingham, one of eight non-league clubs to receive a £50,000 grant as part of the Budweiser Club Futures programme. These eight clubs are now in with a chance of winning an additional £100,000 Super Grant, which will be decided in a vote on Facebook. Voting on the Budweiser UK and FA Cup Facebook pages opens in January 2014.