England v Holland preview
Pearce leads Three Lions into post-Capello era
Last Updated: February 29, 2012 5:53pm
It will be all change for England at Wembley on Wednesday night as a new manager and captain step in for a crucial friendly in the build-up towards Euro 2012.
Having safely secured qualification for the tournament last year, England's preparations appeared to be progressing well following victories over reigning champions Spain and bogey team Sweden in a November double-header.
The draw for the finals could also have been a lot harder on the Three Lions and, despite Wayne Rooney's two-match suspension, Fabio Capello could have been forgiven for thinking that he had a chance to end his reign on a high this summer.
The focus has shifted dramatically away from the European Championship, though, after the Football Association's decision to strip John Terry of the captaincy for alleged racial abuse of Anton Ferdinand set in motion a chain of events that led to Capello resigning.
Harry Redknapp was immediately installed as the overwhelming favourite to take the job after being cleared of all charges in a tax evasion trial, but his involvement in Tottenham's title-chasing Premier League campaign has made the timing of the search for a successor even trickier.
The FA has yet to approach anyone about the permanent position and it is still not known who will take charge in Poland and Ukraine, but for Wednesday's game against the Netherlands the reins have been handed to Stuart Pearce.
As a member of Capello's coaching team and the Under 21s boss, the move to appoint Pearce on an interim basis provides stability and the former England international has made it clear that he would be prepared to lead the side to Euro 2012.
Apart from naming his first squad, one of the main tasks facing Pearce has been to select a skipper for the clash with the Dutch following Terry's removal from the role.
He kept the identity secret at a press conference on Tuesday but it is believed that Scott Parker could be set to get the nod ahead of Steven Gerrard, Joe Hart and James Milner.
Whoever wears the armband, they will be leading out an England team at Wembley that has a mixture of youth and experience after Pearce selected a squad of players that he felt he needed to learn something about for the future.
With that in mind, the likes of Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand were left out, while Terry's absence because of a knee problem spared some awkward questions about the deposed captain.
A number of others have had to withdraw due to injury, with Tom Cleverley, Glen Johnson and Kyle Walker joining Rooney and Darren Bent in pulling out.
Bent is even doubtful for the summer showpiece after rupturing ankle ligaments in Saturday's Premier League match at Wigan, and this has left Pearce with a lot to think about in terms of attacking options.
The only three recognised strikers left in the squad are the inexperienced Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge and Fraizer Campbell, who will all be looking to push their claims for further inclusion.
Walcott is another alternative and could be tried out in a centre-forward role after returning to goalscoring form in the North London derby, otherwise he is likely to start out wide alongside a more established midfield.
Newly-crowned England Player of the Year Parker will get the chance to forge a partnership with Liverpool's Gerrard, who has not played for his country since November 2010, while there should also be a place for Milner.
Micah Richards will be determined to grab his chance after returning from the international wilderness, and could be joined in the back four by Gary Cahill, Phil Jones and Ashley Cole, in front of goalkeeper Joe Hart.
All the talk about the manager and captain has certainly overshadowed what should be an exciting game, with the Three Lions facing a further test of their championship credentials.
This is England's final match before the end of the domestic season, with just a couple of friendlies against Norway and Belgium to come pre-tournament to fine-tune their preparations.
Van Persie doubt
World Cup runners-up Holland are sure to offer a formidable challenge after cruising through their qualification campaign in impressive style.
The Dutch will go into the summer as one of the favourites to walk off with the trophy despite being pitted in a tough group that also contains Germany, Portugal and Denmark.
Bert van Marwijk has also had several fitness worries to contend with, though, after Tottenham's Rafael van der Vaart (ankle) and Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm (illness) had to pull out.
Holland are also sweating on the availability of Robin van Persie after seeing their star striker forced out of training on the eve of the match with a groin problem.
The injury will be assessed closer to kick-off but Van Marwijk is optimistic the Arsenal striker will be at his disposal.
Should Van Persie not take part, the Dutch are likely to replace him with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, while Mark van Bommel is also a doubt with a knee problem.
Wed 29th Feb
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England v Holland
Scott Parker admits England need more than just 'courage and commitment' if they are to triumph at major tournaments.
Joe Hart believes Scott Parker deserved to be named England captain for Wednesday's friendly with Holland.
Netherlands stars Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben think England can surpass expectations at Euro 2012.
- Richards eyes Euro role
- Pretty vacant
- Dawson backs captain Parker
- Hooper eyes England spot
- Young support for Pearce
- Sturridge grateful for Pearce
- Pearce - I'm not for long-term
- Double delight for Campbell
- Parker gets Gerrard backing
- Robben at the double for Dutch
- Huntelaar reveals Fabio shock
- Pearce lauds Cole talent
- Parker 'named England captain'
- Pearce - Captaincy the pinnacle
- Holland suffer RVP scare
- Crocked Bent backed by boss
- Sturridge support