English Championship

Lomas agrees Millwall switch

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Thu, 06 Jun 2013 22:10:00

Brazil striker Hulk has admitted there is some truth in reports linking him with a big-money move to Chelsea.

Jose Mourinho has reportedly made a ?35million move for the Zenit St Petersburg star but the Russian club are said to want closer to the almost ?50m they paid Porto in 2012.

Mourinho, who returned as Chelsea manager this week, is also thought to be close to a deal for Bayer Leverkusen forward Andre Schurrle.

However, Hulk could be another man on the Stamford Bridge club's list of targets and the player has always appeared keen on a move to the Premier League.

Hulk is currently getting ready for the Confederations Cup with Brazil but, amid the speculation of Chelsea's bid, he is quoted as saying by Globo Esporte: "If I said there was not anything in it, I would be lying.

"But that is not for now. I am 100 per cent focused on the national team at the moment.

"I came to wear this [Brazil] shirt with pride. My family and my friends are following me. I hope to win the Confederations Cup."

Hulk started Brazil's 2-2 friendly draw against England last Sunday but did not score and was booked before being substituted in the 72nd minute.

It is nearly 47 years since the Three Lions last tasted glory and it does not look like that run will end any time soon.

Qualification for the 2014 World Cup, looks like a tough ask at the moment, while success at age group competitions has been hard to come by.

Pearce knows that all too well, having spent more than a decade playing for the senior team before taking charge of the Under-21s in 2007.

It is such experience that has led the former full-back, currently in Israel with the Young Lions, to believe that the approach to international tournaments is in need of radical reform.

"I will tell you now what you need to do to win a tournament and be successful," Pearce said.

"It was exactly the same as the French, Spanish and Germans before us. They have all done this prior to us.

"You qualify with your best players. You take your best team to the tournament and you take your best players.

"That is the only way you will have a hope of being successful. The statistics back that up.

"We have done a study over the last 10 years. In that time, only Spain surpass us in terms of qualification for tournaments, from Under-17 level to the seniors.

"But when you flip it on its head and ask how many of our top 50 players who are playing in the senior squad now who have got tournament experience before they get there, we finish second bottom of the group.

"That study is around the top seven teams in Europe. It also incorporates the four top teams in South America and Mexico. The statistics are there.

"It is whether you want to ignore them and think it doesn't matter, we will just turn up and try to win a World Cup. Or do you want to put the building blocks in place?

"Experience is exactly that. I made my England debut when I was 25. I was nervous at Wembley.

"I had 20 caps before the World Cup in Italy but nothing prepared me for stepping out into the pressure that came my way.

"From that experience, I said 'that can't be right'. It is a pathway I do not want young players to tread.

"I want them to get that experience (of tournaments) before they step out on to that stage.

"You only have to look at the development of Theo Walcott. He went to the World Cup in 2006. Since then, he could have gone to two World Cups, two European Championships, three Under-21 European Championships, two Under-20 World Cups and an Olympic games, age permitting.

"I think he has only played five-and-a-half tournaments matches in that period.

"We have to address that, so our brighter players, like the Oxlade-Chamberlains, can get tournament experience - playing time - and don't just go to them."

Oxlade-Chamberlain is amongst the current crop of players that Pearce believes England have missed a trick with.

The current structure, coupled with injuries, suspension and a lack of appetite, left the Under-21s without 17 eligible players for last night's European Championship opener against Italy.

The Young Lions duly lost 1-0 and will exit the group stage for the second tournament in succession if they lose to Norway on Saturday.

"If you bring your best players, you stand a chance of winning the tournament," said Pearce, whose contract expires at the end of the month.

"If you don't bring your best players, you take your chance when you get there. That applies to every country in the world.

"I have a conversation with the England senior manager about what players he wants. He has first dibs and rightly so.

"Everyone who is left over is available to the Under-21 squad. You then have to look at certain injuries.

"At any given times, you will lose four to five players at the end of a season. You have to accept that.

"Then there are one or two players who do not want to give their summers up, whichever way you look at it, to go and represent their country. That's just how it is."

The 39-year-old Northern Irishman guided St Johnstone to European qualification for the two seasons he was in charge in Perth and his reign included Saints' highest ever Scottish Premier League finish of third last campaign.

After a playing career with Manchester City and West Ham United before shorter spells at Queens Park Rangers and Gillingham, Lomas began his managerial career at St Neots Town.

He then accepted the St Johnstone job in November 2011 from former Lion Derek McInnes, who left to take over at Bristol City, following a brief spell as reserve team coach at former club West Ham.

Millwall chairman John Berylson said: "I was tremendously impressed with Steve. He has great passion and energy, knows a lot about Millwall as a club already, and this is a job he is genuinely hungry for.

"In some respects, following Kenny Jackett is a tall order, but Steve is very different from his predecessor, younger and with a fresh approach.

"I believe our fans will take to him, and to those who say we shouldn't have appointed a former captain of our biggest rivals, my response is, he has the desire to become a great Millwall manager.

"He understands the rivalry and is keen to be judged over time on his commitment to our club and what he can help us achieve.

"From our point of view, we want the best man for the job, and we believe that man is Steve Lomas.

"I would like to thank the chairman of St Johnstone for allowing us to appoint Steve and for the courteous and professional way in which our business has been conducted."

St Johnstone chairman Steve Brown wrote at the end of a lengthy club statement: "(Steve) joins Owen Coyle and Derek McInnes in having been successful enough in Perth to warrant a crack at a bigger club.

"We wish him well with that and thank him for his efforts with St Johnstone.

"Finally we would like to thank the Millwall management for the courtesy and professionalism they have shown on dealing with this matter."

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