Stuart Pearce will name England captain tomorrow


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The Independent Football

Stuart Pearce will not formally tell his players who the latest England skipper is until tomorrow morning.

The interim boss said last week it would be Tuesday or Wednesday before made his decision public. And after one full training session and another yesterday in which half his players were unable to play any meaningful role, he has opted to leave it until the day of a friendly with World Cup runners-up Holland.

"The captain will be announced when the team is announced tomorrow at around 10am," said Pearce.

"It is the format I had at Manchester City and the England Under-21s and I see no reason to change at this moment in time."

It does however appear that Pearce has someone in mind.

Football Association officials were anxious to make sure no one jumped to any conclusions about the fact goalkeeper Joe Hart - one of the candidates - had been put forward for today's pre-match press conference, normally the captain's prerogative.

Hart has been under consideration though, as have James Milner and Scott Parker.

"Joe is an outstanding young goalkeeper," said Pearce.

"I would never be against naming a goalkeeper. I played with one, Peter Shilton. I wouldn't rule anybody out. He is a big character within the group but at this stage, all we are doing is speculating."

The overwhelming favourite is Liverpool's Steven Gerrard. The difficulty appeared to be how Pearce intended to use the 31-year-old given he was a central figure in that gruelling Carling Cup final at Wembley on Sunday and will also be needed by Liverpool for their Saturday lunchtime engagement with Arsenal this weekend.

Yet Pearce, whilst eager to reassure Kenny Dalglish he had the player's interests at heart, says there are no issues with Gerrard's fitness and he is available to bridge a gap of over 15 months since his last England appearance.

"Steven is fit enough to start," said Pearce.

"We are acutely aware of the difficulties anyone would have had after playing on Sunday.

"Steven and Stewart Downing played extra-time and we have had to look after them. Also Scott Parker, with regard to the physical and emotional effort he put in at Arsenal. The important thing is to try and keep everyone fresh."

Following the withdrawals of Kyle Walker, Tom Cleverley, Wayne Rooney and Darren Bent, Pearce suffered a further injury blow this afternoon when Glen Johnson returned to Liverpool.

Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott, a surprise omission in the first place, has been drafted in as a replacement.

However, the odds are now that Micah Richards will start his first England game in over four years after largely being frozen out by Fabio Capello.

Richards is just one of a number of young players who have something to prove against the Dutch and, explaining his decision not to select any more strikers, Pearce said he was actually quite pleased at the fact his three remaining forwards, Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge and Fraizer Campbell, have just four caps between them.

"We are in the home run to the Championships," said Pearce.

"We have to find out about one or two individuals in the squad and this is a great opportunity, against one of the favourites for the tournament."

Pearce revealed he had been in touch with Capello, both last week and yesterday, as England gathered for the first time since he resigned in such dramatic circumstances three weeks ago.

Although a picture of Capello was removed from one of the side-rooms in which today's various briefings took place, Pearce has no wish to airbrush the Italian out of his own history, thanking him for the time he has been able to spend further his own career.

That could yet lead to him being named as England coach for the European Championship although Pearce still insists he is not the right man for the job long-term.

"The mentality I have today will be the same on Thursday morning, regardless of what happens tomorrow evening," he said.

"The process of finding the next manager will continue. I will just try and put everything in place so the next man can walk through the door, straight into a job with everything planned out for him ready to take the team to the tournament.

"All he will have to do is pick a squad.

"If someone is in during that time frame, fantastic. I will offer my services. If he doesn't need me, I will support from afar.

"I have no ego but if the FA need me to take the squad to the Euros in the summer I would have no problem with that either.

"I would do it with pleasure."