Stuart Pearce to leave England Under-21 post

Stuart Pearce. Photo: PA

Stuart Pearce has been informed by the Football Association he will not be kept on as England Under-21s manager.

The former international full-back was appointed to the post in 2007 and led the Young Lions to four successive European Championship finals.

However, Pearce's side failed to get a point at this summer's tournament in Israel and will now leave the role when his contract expires at the end of the month.

It was a move many had expected, especially given England also failed to make it out of the group in 2011, and was taken following Club England Board discussions.

"I'd like to thank Stuart Pearce for his hard work," FA chairman David Bernstein said.

"Nobody can doubt his commitment to the job throughout his time as U21 coach.

"He has done extremely well in qualifying for finals tournaments, but after the disappointment of the past two tournaments, we believe it is time to change coach.

"On behalf of everyone at The FA I'd like to wish Stuart well for the future."

Talk of a replacement is already rife, with former Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate standout favourite with the bookmakers.

Glenn Hoddle has also been linked with the role, although the outspoken former England manager said he would only accept if the current national set-up was overhauled.

Michael Appleton, who worked with senior manager Roy Hodgson and Dan Ashworth, the FA's director of elite development, at West Brom, has also been linked with the post, as has Phil Neville after joining Pearce's coaching staff in Israel.

With the future in mind, Bernstein added: "It is important the organisation now considers the best approach for the role of Under-21 coach and how this works best within the overall England structure before making any new appointment."

The decision to replace Pearce comes despite the backing of many of his players.

Under-21s captain Jordan Henderson expressed his desire for the former full-back to be kept on, as did the likes of Andre Wisdom, Connor Wickham and Jack Butland.

"It says it all how we got here, the way we played, the structure and organisation we had," Stoke goalkeeper Butland said last week.

"There is no-one else to blame [but the players]. It is the same group of players - it us that have not performed.

"For a legend of the game like Stuart Pearce, it is difficult to apologise, but there is no-one else to blame but the players.

"We were on the pitch, I hope he stays in the job.

"He works extremely hard and does everything necessary to make sure we are successful and gives us all the right tools. I really do hope he stays."

Pearce led the Under-21s to the European Championship final in 2009, before losing to Germany.

In 2007, his first tournament in charge, they suffered an epic 13-12 penalty shootout loss to hosts Holland at the semi-final juncture.

England have not fared so well in the previous two editions, though, exiting at the group stage in Denmark and this year losing to Italy, Norway and Israel on their way out.