England prepare to take on the Netherlands at Wembley tomorrow on the back of a hugely eventful last few weeks in the set-up of the national side.
Fabio Capello is no longer in charge after the Italian resigned following the Football Association’s decision to strip John Terry of the captaincy, with his impending court case for charges of racial abuse against Anton Ferdinand not due to take place until after Euro 2012.
So with no permanent captain and no permanent manager in place, Stuart Pearce has taken temporary charge while the FA decide who is the best choice to take the side to Poland & Ukraine this summer.
The Under-21 boss has picked a few fresh faces within the squad for tomorrow’s game, as the likes of Frazier Campbell and Tom Cleverley find themselves gaining international recognition.
Both have had to overcome injury problems to get back on track, most notably Campbell who missed 18 month through a serious knee injury.
Pearce has also left out the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard as ‘Psycho’ tries to work out which of the fringe players could launch a late push for selection in June.
It also gives Steven Gerrard an opportunity to stake a real claim to lead the side in the finals, with the Liverpool midfielder likely to be given the armband against the Dutch.
For Pearce, it is the chance to manage his country and potentially put himself in contention to manage the side at the Euro’s, with his passion and commitment to the country’s cause never in question.
Yet the former Manchester City manager has already come in for criticism for leaving out in-form Arsenal winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who can feel hard done by for not being one of the fringe players not given the chance.
But for those in the squad, many will feel this game can allow them to put their hands up and earn a place within an England starting XI that is by no means certain.
Joe Hart is an absolute certainty in goal, but the defence in front of the Man City stopper remains undecided. While Terry and Ferdinand have great experience, the likes of Gary Cahill and Phil Jones will be hoping to prove their worth at centre-half.
Ashley Cole is a definite starter at left-back, but the other side of the back-line is not so clearcut, with Richards, Kyle Walker and Glen Johnson in with a realistic shout.
In the midfield, both Gerrard and Scott Parker look assured, but with Jack Wilshere still injured the likes of Cleverley and Gareth Barry will fancy their chances.
Wayne Rooney’s absence with a throat infection means crucial game time for the main candidates to take his place whilst the Manchester United star serves his two-game suspension at the European Championship.
So while the preparation has hardly been ideal, this game could help give England a clearer perspective going into the summer, not only on the pitch but off it.
So what do you think? Will England’s fringe players stake a claim for the Euro’s? Can Pearce become an outside contender for the job this summer? Leave a comment and let us know your views