Wilfried Zaha can prove himself before he joins Manchester United, says Stuart Pearce

Zaha will show he can handle the big time ahead of United move, says Pearce

and has yet to score but Pearce is set to play him as a central striker in tonight’s friendly against Romania at Wycombe.

The past few months have been high pressure for Zaha. He made his senior England debut in Sweden, joined Manchester United for 15million, was loaned straight back to Palace and earlier this week he was banned for one game by the FA after making an offensive gesture to Leeds supporters.

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Supported: Stuart Pearce is confident Wilfried Zaha can impress

Supported: Stuart Pearce is confident Wilfried Zaha can impress

Pearce, though, has no concerns about Zaha’s mental strength and is expecting him to play a significant role at Euro 2013.

‘We asked Wilf to play centre forward
(against Sweden) last month rather than his natural wide position and we
might do on that again,’ said Pearce. ‘I have to bear in mind that a
lot has happened to Wilf in a short space of time.

‘He’s still one of the younger boys
and will be involved in the next qualification campaign. I’m delighted
with how he’s come in, he seems happy.

Under pressure Zaha's profile has grown considerably this season

Under pressure Zaha's profile has grown considerably this season

ENGLAND UNDER 21 v ROMANIA

ENGLAND (4-2-3-1): Butland; Smith, Dawson, Wisdom, Bennett: Henderson, Shelvey: Sterling, Lansbury, Townsend: Zaha.

Kick-off: 7pm, Adams Park

Referee: Jonathan Lardot (Belgium)

TV: LIVE on ESPN from 6.30pm

'I’m seeing the same kid as I did a
couple of months ago. I think Wilf is one of those nice easy going lads
and not much worries him.

‘That’s the impression I get. We see
exactly the same in him as his football.

'Whether he’s gone to United or
stayed at Palace I’ll view him as the same player that’s learning,
maturing and will get better and better.’

It is likely Pearce will play a strong
team tonight and that will include Danny Rose, who will win his first
cap since being sent-off during the Euro 2013 qualifier against Serbia
in October; the Sunderland defender was also subjected to horrific
racial abuse that evening.

Centre forward Pearce says Zaha may have to play through the middle

Centre forward Pearce says Zaha may have to play through the middle

‘What went on in Serbia had nothing to
do with me not picking Danny,’ said Pearce. ‘I just needed to look at a
couple of others. He is suspended for the first game of the
Championship so we’ll have to start with another left back.

‘But he’s too important to me to leave
him out (this summer) for one game. We have Tom Ince missing the first
game, too, but the only way I’d leave someone out is if they were
suspended for all three group games.

'We are playing to win, so I’m
planning to play five games.’

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