England draw Ireland in under-21 Euro qualifiers

February 13, 2007

England Under-21s will face their Republic of Ireland counterparts in the qualifying campaign for the 2009 European Championships.

Both teams were drawn in Group 3 in the draw in Stockholm, with the tournament being held in Sweden.

Portugal, Bulgaria and Montenegro were also drawn in the group which will start next season after this summer's finals tournament in Holland.

It was the first time Montenegro featured in a draw, after the country was accepted as a member association at the UEFA congress in Germany last month.

Starting from this summer, the tournament will now be held in 'odd' numbered years to fall between major senior tournaments, which meant the recent qualifying campaign was somewhat shortened.

This time, England will play their opponents twice before a play-off will see seven teams join hosts Sweden in the finals.

Manchester City boss Stuart Pearce will be in charge for this summer's tournament but Steve McClaren has indicated he wants a full-time appointment eventually.

If a full-time coach is found, he will lose players such as skipper Nigel Reo-Coker from the previous qualifying campaign but Theo Walcott would still be eligible.