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The Toe Poke
By ESPN Staff

Pearce in England U21 tug-of-war

Manchester City manager Stuart Pearce has vowed he will always put his club first - despite his impending part-time appointment as England Under-21s coach.

Pearce announced on Sunday night that he has agreed to take on the under-21s job through to next summer's European Championships, only to quickly discover his City employers have major qualms about his involvement.

The former England defender has no such doubts about a situation he believes has 'no downside' and can only help his club.

'Manchester City are and always will be my number one priority,' he told the Manchester Evening News.

'In my own mind, I am absolutely sure that me being involved with the cream of this country's young players can only benefit this club in the long run.'

Pearce knows that he and City need him to concentrate on managing the club's fortunes. 'I know I cannot afford to take my eye off the ball at City,' he said.

'We are not good enough, and I am not good enough to be distracted just one per cent, and if I thought the England job would create that situation then I simply would not do it.'

He is confident his club's supporters will be sure that he will not let them, City or himself down.

'If City fans don't know that I will always put the club first, they do not know me - and they should by now,' he said.

'I am not stupid. I weighed up the situation carefully before I decided that the jobs would not overlap.

'My involvement would only be up until the end of the tournament in June, and that is fine by me.

'I don't see a downside to the situation.'

Pearce does not expect to have to spend any significant time watching prospective under-21s players when he might be completing his duties at Eastlands.

'There will be no scouting as such, because the squad is virtually picked already,' he said.

'By Tuesday night of next week, my four days in charge during the season will already be half over.'