The England caretaker manager, Stuart Pearce, yesterday put himself in the frame to take the job for Euro 2012 this summer – although not beyond that – should the Football Association fail to appoint a new man in time.
Pearce, 49, who announced his squad for the friendly against the Netherlands at Wembley on Wednesday, said that he accepted that he did not have the track record to get the England manager's job on a full-time basis but added that his tournament experience made him a candidate to remain in charge for the European Championship.
Currently the manager of the Under-21s, whom he has taken to three European championships, and the prospective coach of Team GB at the London Olympics, Pearce said that he had told the FA he was ready to take the job for the summer. Harry Redknapp remains the runaway favourite to succeed Fabio Capello on a permanent basis although a move for him is not without potential problems.
The surprise inclusion in the squad was the Sunderland striker Fraizer Campbell, one of two uncapped names among the 25 along with Manchester United's Tom Cleverley. Pearce also recalled Micah Richards, out of favour under Capello. Otherwise it was more about the omissions, who included Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick, Andy Carroll, Joleon Lescott and Peter Crouch.
Pearce said that he had spoken to all those individuals left out – and had visited one in person – to tell them that he wanted to give some of the less experienced players a chance. He said he was eager that that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain should be allowed to develop in the Under-21s first and the Arsenal winger is in their squad, who will be joined by Everton's Phil Neville on the coaching staff as he prepares for his career after playing, to face Belgium next week.
On his willingness to coach the senior team at Euro 2012, Pearce said that he had outlined his ambitions to the Club England director Trevor Brooking. "I would be the first person to say this [permanent] job is for a very experienced manager and someone with a better CV than I have. I have been asked to do the job next week. I have also said to the federation [FA] I would be more than happy to take the team to the tournament.
"I feel as though I have enough experience. I have been to semi-finals as a player. I have been to tournaments and reached finals and semi-finals with the Under-21s. I have been to South Africa with Fabio. I have enough tournament experience. It would be an absolute honour and a pleasure.
"I don't think at this moment in time I've got the experience to be the full-time England manager, so my run would end in the summer. But someone on the football side has to be planning and that's why I've been in the building over the last five years, for situations like this when someone has to step into the breach. I'll give my recommendations.
"[I am] a candidate who has some form of experience and won't go to a tournament having never been to a tournament at any level. That is the only thing I can offer. Obviously I can offer myself as a coach that a lot of these players know and I played alongside some of them, the likes of Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand were team-mates of mine at the back end of my career.
"Tournament football does stand alone a little bit in respect to club football. Fabio found out one or two things you do slightly different. What we have to make sure is the next man through the door has as much education."
On the captaincy, Pearce said that he would make a decision having observed the group which meets on Sunday. He said that when it came to the criteria for the decision, he was reminded of a speech he gave to soldiers in Afghanistan last year.
"On the trip over there I thought, 'Well, how do I approach this? What key element do I believe would be fundamental in a leader?' And that would be 'unselfish'. That's the one word I could come up with.
"Your team-mates have to know you're in this for their greater good, rather than your own. I will attempt to pick a captain next week who I believe has that sort of respect in the other players' eyes."
Pearce added in a separate interview that he believed that the attention placed upon the captaincy, a role he performed for his country as a player, had been "off the Richter scale" in the last few months.
The likelihood is that Steven Gerrard will captain the side for what will potentially be his first appearance for England since the France friendly in November 2010. Pearce has also selected Wayne Rooney despite the Manchester United striker being suspended for the first two games of Euro 2012. He was concerned the player would otherwise have been out of international football for nine months by the time he is available to face Ukraine on 19 June, in the third group game. Rooney will play some part on Wednesday, he said.
Pearce conceded that whatever happens in the next four months, the "expectation ... will be slightly out of tilt with reality" come Euro 2012. He said: "I don't want to play down our chances of winning anything, I wouldn't do that, but trophy cabinets don't lie. At all age groups. Now you look at ours, 1966 was the last time we pulled a trophy out. Whether I like it as an Englishman or not, that is a fact."
'Psycho' full of regret for Ince racial abuse
Stuart Pearce said yesterday that he was a changed man from the individual who had to apologise to Paul Ince for racially abusing him during a game between Nottingham Forest and Manchester United in 1994.
In front of the television cameras, Pearce had accused newspapers of "rehashing" the story but later he admitted that he "regretted" what he said to Ince. Asked whether it was a one-off mistake, Pearce replied "I believe so".
"It was something that I apologised for at the time," he said. "Society has changed a great deal certainly over the years. A lot more is being done especially in our profession – and rightly so – in regard to anti-racism.
"In regard to the incident, myself and Paul have no ill feeling towards each other. We competed in Euro '96 together, four months ago I sat next to his wife watching his son Tom playing at West Ham in my capacity as Under-21 manager.
"There's no ill feeling there but it's certainly something I regretted at the time. What you were and what you've said 17 years ago is certainly no reflection of what you've said today as a man... It's very disappointing, I think it's important that I draw a line under it and we move on from there."