Swiss test for England youngsters

January 27, 2006

England will face Switzerland and either Kazakhstan or Moldova in qualifying for next year's European Under-21 Championship.

Peter Taylor's team and the Scotland Under-21s were both automatically routed into the group stages - England into Group H and Scotland into Group N - but Northern Ireland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland face preliminary ties.

Scotland - who are still searching for a new Under-21 coach after the departure of Rainer Bonhof last November - have been drawn in a tough group, with France and Slovenia their opposition.

None of the home nations qualified for this year's European Under-21 Championship, and while England will not be overawed by the task of finishing top of their group this time, it looks more bleak an outlook for the other countries.

The 14 group winners enter play-offs, from which the winners join hosts Holland at the finals.

Northern Ireland will begin their campaign against Liechtenstein, with the winners going into Group J with Romania and Germany.

Wales face Estonia in their preliminary tie, hoping to progress into Group M with Turkey and Israel.

The Republic tackle Azerbaijan seeking to join Belgium and Greece in Group D.

Preliminaries must be played before July 15 this summer, with group games due to be completed during August and September.