Southgate, McClaren and Appleton favourites for England Under-21 vacancy

The Football Association are nearing appointing a new full-time manager of the England Under-21s, the Daily Telegraph has reported, with former senior team manager Steve McClaren, former England international Gareth Southgate, and Michael Appleton, formerly assistant to senior team boss Roy Hodgson at West Bromwich Albion the three leading candidates.

Southgate and McClaren are said by the newspaper to be the two front-runners for the position, vacated by Stuart Pearce after the Young Lions endured a disappointing European Under-21 Championships in which they failed to win a game and exited the tournament at the group stage. Pearce’s contract was not renewed when it expired this summer.

Appleton is also a contender, having worked with both Hodgson and Dan Ashworth, the FA’s director of elite development, at West Brom. He left the Baggies to take over as Portsmouth manager before two truncated spells in the Championship, first at Blackpool and then Blackburn Rovers.

Southgate has managerial experience at Middlesbrough – where he played under and later succeeded McClaren as manager – and was the former head of elite development with the FA. He currently works as a pundit for ITV but is said to want to return to management.

McClaren left the senior manager’s role in 2007 after England failed to qualify for Euro 2008. He has since won the league in the Netherlands with FC Twente and had brief spells with Wolfsburg and Nottingham Forest, and was this summer appointed as a coach at Queens Park Rangers under Harry Redknapp.

England’s Under-21s play their Scotland counterparts on Tuesday evening with Hodgson and senior team assistant Ray Lewington taking charge of the match at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane.

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