Terry refusing to cave in to pressure as Capello aide Pearce slams witch-hunt

EMBATTLED England captain John Terry has received a ringing endorsement from the national coaching set-up as manager Fabio Capello ponders whether to strip him of the armband.

Terry has so far resisted huge pressure to relinquish the honour following tabloid allegations that he had an affair with the ex-girlfriend of England colleague and former Chelsea team-mate Wayne Bridge.

The 29-year-old is understood to be unwilling to stand down as skipper, while the Football Association has adopted a hands-off approach to the scandal, meaning the decision is likely to rest solely with disciplinarian Capello.

But if the Italian consults Under-21 boss Stuart Pearce, the most senior English coach on Capello’s staff and his right-hand man on match-days, he is likely to get an overwhelmingly positive appraisal of Terry.

“The one thing I would say is John Terry is a fantastic captain,” said Pearce. “In footballing terms on and off the pitch I think he is a selfless professional and his form is fantastic for his country.

“I’m not a big lover of witch hunts of people, which I’m afraid our country tends to follow a little bit these days. The bottom line is John, his family and everyone concerned in the matter – it’s a matter for those people and not other people who haven’t got a vested interest in what goes on.”

Capello is expected to hold talks with Terry over the next 48 hours before flying to Poland for Sunday’s Euro 2012 draw. And a spokesman for Terry said the defender would not break his silence on the matter until then.

“John Terry asked me to make it clear that he has made absolutely no statement about his future as England captain,” said Phil Hall, the former tabloid editor-turned-public relations guru. “He is keeping his own counsel until he speaks to England manager Fabio Capello and then Mr Capello will decide what announcement will be made.”