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Young Lions avoid big guns

England have been drawn to face hosts Israel, Norway and Italy in Group A at next summer's UEFA Under-21 Championship finals.

Last Updated: 28/11/12 at 19:48 Post Comment

Stuart Pearce's England handed a favourable draw ahead of the U21 European C

Stuart Pearce's England handed a favourable draw ahead of the U21 European C

Stuart Pearce's side claimed their place at next summer's tournament after an acrimonious qualifying play-off success against Serbia.

The draw in Tel Aviv handed the Young Lions a favourable opportunity of winning the competition for the first time since 1984 after current holders Spain were drawn against Holland, Russia and Germany in Group B.

Spain helped knock England out of the last tournament in 2011, where they failed to progress from the group stage.

Germany, meanwhile, thrashed England in the 2009 final, while Holland beat them in an epic semi-final penalty shootout two years earlier.

Pearce said: "I thought the draw would only serve to underline what we already knew - that we will have to be at it from the off to beat the very best young teams in Europe if we are to succeed in this tournament.

"We are in with the hosts and they'll be backed by some great home support.

"Norway we know all about and there was very little between us in qualifying.

"Italy are technically very difficult to break down and we have experience of them in the past.

"On paper, it might look easy, but it never works that way. We are excited by it."

Matches will take place in Tel Aviv, Petah Tivka, Netanya and Jerusalem.

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