England caretaker manager Stuart Pearce delayed naming his captain for tomorrow's friendly against the Netherlands but revealed he had already decided who would lead the team at Wembley. With John Terry stripped of the captaincy, speculation has mounted over who Pearce would select to skipper England the high-profile international against the Dutch.
But Pearce - managing England following the surprise resignation of Fabio Capello - ensured the speculation would rage for another day after refusing to divulge which player would wear the armband. "The captain will be announced tomorrow when the team is announced tomorrow morning. It's a format that I have followed at club level and U-21 level and I didn't see it necessary to change it at this moment in time," Pearce said.
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, who led England at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, is regarded as the front-runner for the position although Pearce insisted he had considered "several candidates" for the role. Pearce, who has declared himself available to manage England at this summer's European Championships if a permanent successor to Capello is not found, said he wanted an "unselfish" player to captain the side.
"When I bear in mind it might be a one-off scenario, the captain has got to be somebody who is in the starting XI, somebody who's got the respect of the other players in my eyes and someone who is unselfish and puts the group above himself," Pearce said. "That's a vital commodity as captain. There is no doubt there are several candidates, but I made my mind up a week or two weeks ago."
Pearce said the captain would be revealed when the squad were informed of the starting XI for the Dutch game tomorrow morning. "At 10:00am I would think we'll have a meeting before we go out and train," Pearce said.
Pearce meanwhile encouraged the younger members of his squad to stake a claim for a place in the final UEFA EURO 2012 squad in the absence of strikers Wayne Rooney and Darren Bent, who withdrew through illness and injury over the weekend. "We're in the home straight for the (European) Championships in the summer and we have to find out about one or two in and around the squad and it's a great opportunity to find that out, playing against one of the favourites for the tournament," Pearce said.
With Bent and Rooney missing, England will have to perm a forward line from three strikers - Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge and Fraizer Campbell - who have yet to start an international. Pearce is adamant that the untested strikers can seize their opportunity to shine. "It's a fantastic opportunity, that's how we see it," he said. "I think they will acquit themselves very, very well and we're looking forward to it. Some will stake a claim for the summer, I hope the majority will."
But England will have to do without Glen Johnson after the Liverpool defender's withdrawal Tuesday saw him become the fifth player to pull out of the squad after Rooney, Bent, Tom Cleverley and Kyle Walker. Manchester City's Joleon Lescott was called up in Johnson's place.
Pearce meanwhile revealed he had received a good luck message from Capello ahead of Wednesday's game. "I spoke with Fabio a few days ago to thank him for everything he's done for me, and I received a text from him on Monday morning wishing me all the best for the game on Wednesday, which I replied to," he said.