Pearce favourite for chop after U21s crash

England's head coach Stuart Pearce watches his team lose to Norway during a UEFA European U21 Soccer Championship Group A match
England's head coach Stuart Pearce watches his team lose to Norway during a UEFA European U21 Soccer Championship Group A match
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England Under-21s captain Jordan Henderson wants Stuart Pearce to stay on as manager despite an early European Championship exit the Liverpool midfielder cannot quite believe.

After nine successive wins without conceding, the Young Lions arrived in Israel among the favourites for the title.

Instead, they became the first side to exit the competition after woeful defeats to Italy (1-0) and Norway (3-1) put the semi-finals beyond them with a game to spare.

It is hardly how Pearce had hoped the tournament would pan out, especially having spoken of his desire to stay on as Under-21s manager.

Whether the Football Association extends his contract past the end of the month remains to be seen and, despite overseeing group exits in successive tournaments, Henderson hopes he stays on.

“Of course [I want Pearce to stay],” the Young Lions skipper said. “He has been a brilliant manager since I’ve come into the 21s.

“You can see his record - we got to the final a few tournaments ago and lost to a good team in Germany.

“He has been brilliant with all of us so I would love to see him stay on.”

Despite such backing, Pearce is odds on with the bookmakers to leave the Under-21s post.

It is no real surprise given England failed so miserably in a group many had expected them to qualify from.

“I can’t believe it,” Henderson said. “There was high hopes going into the tournament. It is very disappointing and all the lads were devastated in the dressing room.

“The Italy game was really bad. We didn’t play well at all.

“We played better against Norway. I think we dominated the game, but we have conceded very bad goals.”

Amongst the many reasons for the Under-21s’ failure is the fact key eligible players were unavailable to Pearce. Instead of travelling to Israel, the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Phil Jones and Danny Welbeck played friendlies for the senior team against Ireland and Brazil.

“Other countries do bring their best players,” Henderson said. “Obviously we didn’t bring a few that were with the senior team.”