The England caretaker manager, Stuart Pearce, is preparing for the possibility he may well be in charge of the national team for Euro 2012 this summer and is speaking to Premier League managers about the fitness and form of players who are up for selection.
Pearce, 49, was placed in temporary charge of the team for the friendly against the Netherlands at Wembley on 29 February but since then has continued to work on the principle that he could be required to lead the team in Poland and Ukraine. As yet there has been no contact made by the Football Association with Harry Redknapp, the favourite to get the job.
Letters have already gone out from the FA to a pool of English players from established first-teamers such as Wayne Rooney to those who have only ever been named in provisional squads – which is one step removed from the 25 or so players who are picked for any one international squad. The letters, sent by the FA's Club England department, have gone to every player who has been named in a provisional squad by former manager Fabio Capello over the past 18 months. The letter has told the players that they are under consideration for the Euro 2012 squad and to be prepared to be part of the travelling party that will leave England for Krakow around 5 June.
It is thought that as many as 70 players may have received the letter. Over a season, the provisional England squads are communicated to the players in the week before the final squad for an international break, but never formally made public by the FA. Its function is to put players on standby and warn them not to book holidays for the international break.
Pearce continues to scout on behalf of the senior team and was at Stamford Bridge to watch Chelsea's draw with Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend. He continues to act as the de facto England manager, speaking to clubs about the fitness of players.
He is also understood to have been trying to get a handle on whether it would be feasible to take both Rio Ferdinand and John Terry in the squad. Terry's court case for racial abuse of Ferdinand's brother Anton begins on 9 July, after the tournament, and whoever manages England at Euro 2012 will have to decide whether Ferdinand will tolerate being in the same squad as Terry.
The FA general secretary, Alex Horne, has said that the four-man Club England board, charged with identifying Capello's long-term successor, would make their move at "the back-end of the season". The exact time-span that refers to is not clear. Pearce has said that he would be confident to lead England at Euro 2012 but not in the long-term.
Already the England Under-21s manager and coach of Team GB at the London Olympics, Pearce would also expect to be part of a new manager's backroom staff, providing one is appointed. Speaking at the Soccerex conference in Manchester yesterday, Pearce said that previous England managers had taken little interest in junior England teams.
He said: "I don't think that's been the case prior to now, that's for sure. My model working from the Under-21s down, I would make it my business to know what was going on lower down the ages. You would like to think that the next man through the door would know what is going on below him down to Under-16 level."
England will play friendlies against Norway in Oslo on 26 May and against Belgium at Wembley seven days later. The squad is likely to be named soon after the end of the domestic season on 13 May with a warm-weather training break planned for Marbella soon after. Pearce has hinted that the original Marbella base may yet be changed.