McClaren backs Pearce to guide City and Under-21s

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The Independent Football

England's coach Steve McClaren is confident Stuart Pearce can handle the twin roles of managing Manchester City and leading the national side's Under-21s into this summer's European Championship.

A compromise deal was worked out on Thursday after City officials expressed their concern at the potential for distraction in Pearce combining the two jobs.

The former England captain will now take charge of the Under-21 side for Tuesday's friendly with Spain at Derby's Pride Park, but stand down for a proposed game next month before resuming control again ahead of the prestigious finals tournament in the Netherlands.

The problem of working for club and country is not new to McClaren, who spent five years on the England coaching staff under Sven Goran Eriksson while still manager of Middlesbrough.

But while he accepts that there is bound to be criticism at times, particularly when results go against Pearce at City, McClaren maintains that the move will benefit the individual and his club.

"I did it for five years," he said. "Occasionally, you are dictated to by results and you have to get through that but generally I found it a benefit to Middlesbrough, particularly in the recruitment of players and building the profile of the club. I am sure it will be the same for Stuart."

McClaren has never made any secret of his belief that the Under-21 job should be a full-time appointment. However, having accepted the wisdom of appointing someone purely to lead England this summer, following the resignation of the Crystal Palace manager Peter Taylor last week, McClaren believes there is no better man for the job than Pearce, whose pride and patriotism were on show throughout his 78-cap career in England's defence.

McClaren said: "Stuart Pearce epitomises England and the Three Lions as a player, a manager and a coach.

"He has great determination and is an example of what an England player should be. He has transferred that into management and now he is getting a fantastic opportunity to look after the kids."