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End Of The Line for ‘Psycho’? Israel v England Preview

The future of Stuart Pearce will be decided in the “very near future”, according to Football Association chairman David Bernstein. ‘Psycho’ has been in charge of the England U21 side since 2007 but will be out of contract at the end of the month.

Successive defeats against Italy and Norway have rendered England’s game against the host nation irrelevant and Pearce has been outspoken in his views for the teams disappointing display. He cited the absence of 17 players through a combination of England Senior duty, injury and a lack of commitment to the international team.

England came into the tournament on a nine-match winning run but slumped to a 1-0 defeat against Italy after having a Craig Dawson goal controversially disallowed. There were no such excuses for their comprehensive 3-1 defeat at the hands of Norway on Saturday.

Key players including Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Phil Jones and Danny Welbeck were withdrawn in order to play friendlies with the senior team. Pearce correctly points out that other countries treat the final stages of the tournament with more respect and try to keep as many of the core players available.

The former England left-back has now taken the U21 side to four successive European Championships, finishing runners-up to Germany in 2009 but falling at the group stage in the last two competitions. There is growing speculation that the match in Jerusalem could be Pearce’s last in charge, despite his previously stated wish to remain in the post.

Israel drew their opening match 2-2 with Norway before being thumped 4-0 by the Italians. Israel still have a remote chance of qualifying if they beat England and Norway lose to Italy whilst it will be difficult for Pearce to motivate his players.

England are 4-5 to finish their tournament with a victory with the draw at 5-2 and Israel 7-2 to heap further misery on the Young Lions. Spain are the 5-4 favourites to win the tournament with Holland at 9-4 and Italy at 11-4.