The draw for the qualifying stage of the 2011 UEFA European U21 Championship has been made in Aarhus.
England have been drawn against Portugal, Greece, Macedonia and Lithuania in Group 9 of the qualifying competition for the 2011 UEFA European U21 Championship.
The draw took place this afternoon in Aarhus, one of the host cities for the 2011 Finals in Denmark. The fixtures are expected to start in September and will be confirmed later today.
The ten group winners and four best placed runners-up qualify for play-offs to reach the Final tournament.
The draw will see England renewing acquaintances with Portugal, having faced them twice in the qualifying campaign for the 2009 European U21 Championship. The first meeting in Aguedo finished 1-1
, but England ran out 2-0
winners at Wembley to confirm their participation in a play-off match against Wales, which they won 5-4 on aggregate.
"It's the mark of the competition that all 53 countries in Europe have entered and it's difficult to see an easy group," England Under-21 Head Coach, Stuart Pearce, said after the draw.
"We know that this is one of the toughest competitions to qualify for with a play-off even if you win your group.
"We've been drawn in the same group as Portugal again and they are historically very strong at U21 and youth level. Greece had a good campaign last time and we've got two improving nations in Macedonia and Lithuania.
"The most difficult thing is that you can never be sure of the strength of U21 teams at this stage. Reputations don't count for much at this age.
"We are completely focused on this summer's tournament in Sweden but this gives us something to look forward to for the next two seasons."
England will begin their preparation for this summer's Finals when they take on Ecuador on 10 February in Malaga. Pearce has named his squad
for this match and it includes an uncapped duo of Danny Welbeck and Mark Davies.