Stuart Pearce has declared himself ready, willing and able to manage England at this summer’s European Championships.
Pearce, who was appointed caretaker boss two weeks ago following the shock resignation of Fabio Capello, reiterated he was not qualified to be given the job full-time.
But the fiercely patriotic former England left-back insisted he has what it takes to lead his country in Poland and Ukraine before handing over to Capello’s ultimate successor.
The man who the Football Association appointed Under-21 manager five years ago and who was also Capello’s assistant for four years said: “I’m available and I have tournament experience if they need me to step into the breach in the summer.
“They know exactly where I am, I’ve not fluffed around it, I’ve not turned round and said, ‘I’m not sure what I want to do’ – they know exactly what I want to do.
“If they need me to take the squad in the summer, I’ll do that with pleasure.
“If they need me to coach for a manager that’s coming through the door, I will do that with pleasure as well.”
Despite declaring himself out of the running to succeed Capello on the basis of his limited CV, Pearce was not shy about pitching to be given the job until after Euro 2012.
“I feel as though I have enough experience,” said Pearce, who is currently only in charge for Wednesday’s friendly against Holland.
“The more experience I can gain, the more benefit it will be for me and English football.
“I have gone through the whole coaching pathway. I have also gained a lot of experience as a player, bar the boys who won the World Cup.
“I played in two semi-finals. I took the Under-21s to a major final and a semi-final. I also gained experience alongside Fabio at the 2010 World Cup. I have some experience.
“Hopefully this summer, and Wednesday as well, will improve me as a coach and a man.”
He added: “I was invited in as an Under-21 coach. The FA thought it would pay dividends, maybe on days like today, when I am asked to take over the reins.
“I don’t find it daunting in any way. It is an absolute pleasure.
“Fabio has involved me in every step of the way. His staff have been fantastic.”
Pearce defended Capello’s record but admitted England’s dismal World Cup performance had damaged both of them.
“Fabio’s success rate is comparable to any England manager we have ever had,” he said.
“But we also know there was a stain on our characters as a whole, coaches and players, in South Africa.”
Pearce’s enthusiasm does not change the fact Harry Redknapp remains the firm favourite to succeed Capello in time to take charge at Euro 2012.
Pearce said: “That’s a decision that the FA need to come about for the right and proper reasons.
“I’ll support whoever’s the next man through the door, give him my utmost support and offer my services.
“I think that’s part of leadership, basically. You’ve got to give yourself to the greater good and that’s what I’ll do. I don’t think there’s any need for a gut reaction in respect of the manager.
“The Football Association have put me in charge on a short-term basis, which has given them a bit of breathing space, which is right and proper.”
Pearce has backed “exciting talent” Fraizer Campbell to thrive at international level after handing the Sunderland striker a surprise call-up for the friendly against Holland.
The Huddersfield-born 24-year-old, who enjoyed a loan spell at Hull City before moving to Sunderland, came back into the Black Cats side this season after nearly 18 months out and has made an immediate impact with two goals under new boss Martin O’Neill.
Pearce, who has managed Campbell at under-21 level, said: “I know Fraizer quite well because the heads-up I’ve got is I’ve taken the majority of these boys to under-21 tournaments. He was fantastic on the road with us at under-21 level.
“He’s come back into the Sunderland side and given them a real lift. I spoke to Martin about him at a game a few days ago and he spoke very highly of him. He’s worked fantastically well to get back from the injury he’s had. He’s an exciting talent. I think he’ll thrive by coming into this environment.”
Also in Pearce’s squad, the first since Capello stepped down, are Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley and Manchester City defender Micah Richards.
England squad: S Carson (Bursaspor), J Hart (Man City), R Green (West Ham); G Cahill (Chelsea), A Cole (Chelsea), L Baines (Everton), G Johnson (Liverpool), P Jones (Man United), M Richards (Man City), C Smalling (Man United), K Walker (Tottenham); G Barry (Man City), T Cleverley (Man United), S Downing (Liverpool), A Johnson (Man City), S Gerrard (Liverpool), J Milner (Man City), S Parker (Tottenham), A Young (Man United), T Walcott (Arsenal); D Bent (Aston Villa), F Campbell (Sunderland), D Sturridge (Chelsea), W Rooney (Man United), D Welbeck (Man United).