John Terry's hopes of retaining the England captaincy were boosted Wednesday after being backed by an assistant to coach Fabio Capello.
Stuart Pearce, who also coaches the under-21 team, is the first member of the England coaching setup to support Terry in the wake of his sex scandal.
Terry's future as captain has come under scrutiny since it was alleged the married father of two had a relationship with England teammate Wayne Bridge's former partner.
No public announcement on Terry's position is likely to be made before the Chelsea defender meets later this week with Capello, who has been entrusted by the Football Association with making the final decision.
While criticizing the media focus on Terry, Pearce strongly defended the player's importance to England ahead of the World Cup.
"John Terry is a fantastic captain, in footballing terms on and off the pitch I think he is a selfless professional and his form is fantastic for his country," Pearce said. "So I'm not a big lover of witch hunts of people which I'm afraid our country tends to follow a little bit these days.
"The bottom line is John, his family and everyone concerned in the matter, it's a matter for those people and not the likes of other people who haven't got a vested interest in what goes on."
The Terry saga is not without precedent in international football. It emerged this week that United States coach Steve Sampson dropped John Harkes two months before the 1998 World Cup because the captain was having an affair with the wife of teammate Eric Wynalda.
"There's a lot of similarities between what happened to us in '98 and what's happening now to England," Wynalda told The Associated Press. "It's an unfortunate time for England, because I know how that can affect a team firsthand. Obviously, we all know how we did in the World Cup in '98."
Harkes was a member of the 1990 and 1994 U.S. World Cup teams and became the captain before he was dropped by Sampson in a surprise move in April 1998. He made 90 international appearances from 1987-90.