Pearce England dream in ruins as axe hovers

ENGLAND Under-21 manager Stuart Pearce is facing the sack just months after looking well placed to succeed Roy Hodgson as manager of the senior side, City A.M. understands.

Pearce could lose his job if the team fail to win a two-legged play-off against Serbia on Friday and Tuesday week and clinch a spot at next summer’s European Championship. His current contract expires in nine months and he admitted in September that the Football Association was yet to begin talks with him over an extension.

The former Three Lions full-back has been groomed as a future senior England manager since being appointed to Fabio Capello’s backroom team in 2008, having been Under-21 coach since the previous year. He was handed the role of managing Team GB’s football squad at the London 2012 Olympics, reaching the quarter-finals, in what was seen as another step on his career progression towards the top job.

Pearce even took charge of the seniors in February’s friendly against Holland at Wembley, a 3-2 defeat, following the resignation of Capello earlier that month. Having initially played down his readiness to succeed the Italian, Pearce then talked up his desire to remain in caretaker charge for June’s European Championship, as the FA dragged its heels over choosing Capello’s replacement.

The appointment of Roy Hodgson in May ended Pearce’s immediate hopes, however, and he has since found himself frozen out of the senior coaching set-up.