England U21 coach Gareth Southgate admits speaking with predecessor Stuart Pearce about the job.

Pearce and Southgate's friendship dates back to Euro 96 and the former Middlesbrough boss felt he owed it to Pearce to talk things over when he was placed on the FA's shortlist.

"I have spoken to him three or four times over the last month and he has been brilliant," said Southgate.

"He always said it was a job he loved. I didn't play with anybody more passionate and prepared to give everything for his country than Stuart.

"I know he was proud to do this role, so it is awkward for me to follow him. But after discussions with him, he felt I should apply. That made it acceptable for me.

"I would have been a little bit uncomfortable applying for it had we not had that conversation because we know each other so well."

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