Mansfield Town star Pearce loving international football, despite El Salvador grueller

Krystian Pearce.
Krystian Pearce.

Mansfield Town skipper Krystian Pearce is loving his first taste of international football.

Having long since abandoned hopes of a return to the England set-up he was once part of, Pearce has been thrilled to be called up for Barbados at the age of 28.

And, despite two gruelling journeys and a 3-0 CONCACAF Nations League qualifying defeat in El Salvador on Sunday, Pearce loved every minute of earning his second cap a month after his debut in Guyana.

“I got back about 8am on Monday,” he said. “It was a long day of travelling but I am back now and ready to go.

“I was away for five days and two of those days were travelling.

“It was 23 hours on the way there and 25 hours on the way back – three flights each way.

“Tuesday I had a bit of a recovery day. We weren’t in on Wednesday so today I obviously feel a lot better.

“I enjoyed the experience. Obviously it’s a bit different from League football.”

The El Salvador trip turned out to be every bit as difficult as expected.

“We were always going to be the underdogs and we knew it would be a tough game for us,” said Pearce.

“El Salvador are a strong team. They are a typical South American team and like to pass it. They have wingers with tricks and a few flair players in their team which we tried to nullify.

“We just went in there trying to defend and maybe come out with a point but we conceded quite early in the game and it was tough for us from there.

“We got undone by a mistake and from there it was a struggle to get back into the game.”

Pearce admitted he is very proud to represent Barbados.

“It’s a big thing for me,” he said. “My dad’s from Barbados so it was a proud moment when I got my first cap.

“He is coming out to the first home game next month as well. It’s a good feeling.

“I still have a few relatives out there – my granny is out there still and a few of my dad’s aunties.”

Pearce admitted 28 was late to start an international career.

“It is quite late to be called up, but obviously I started out playing for England U17s and U19s and for a few years after that I was hoping to get back into the England set-up,” he said.

“But I got to a point where I thought I want to play for Barbados now and it’s taken a few years to actually get the call-up. I am grateful that it’s happened now.

“It actually happened through my dad being out there and he met the assistant technical director at a function. They exchanged numbers and I called him. He put my name forward.”

On his country’s ambitions, he said: “We are trying to qualify for the Gold Cup – they have never done it before.

“They have never qualified for any major tournament so that’s the next step for us - and trying to get as high in the rankings as possible.

“I have only played the two games so far and they have been very different games so it’s hard to say how they compare to home at the moment.

“Their set-up is not as good as ours, but they try to do the right things. Their standard of coaching isn’t as high as ours so I try to help where I can and give my input. It’s definitely a work in progress.”

Now Pearce must turn his attentions to more domestic matters and Saturday’s trip to Swindon Town.

“It will be a tough game and it’s the gaffer’s old club so there is going to be a lot of rivalry there,” he said.

“I think we’ve been playing some good football but haven’t got the results we thought we’d deserved.

“We have always been stronger in the second half of a season so if we can start picking up wins now, when it comes to the second half of the season we will do well.

“We have got one of the best defences in the league and a lot of clean sheets so far. But we need to improve on scoring more goals as a team.

“We need to turn some of the draws into wins.

“As a team I think we are playing good football – probably the best football we’ve played since I have been at the club. So I am happy with the way it’s going at the moment.”

As skipper Pearce intends to continue leading by example.

“It’s an honour to be captain – to be club captain is a major thing for me,” he said.

“I try to lead by example through my performances and doing the right things on and off the field – just being me really.”