Training at the Tumbe Kafe
Jamie Bradbury in Bitola
Friday, 04 September, 2009
Stuart Pearce's Under-21s are put through their paces in Macedonia
England's Under-21 team arrived in Macedonia on Wednesday afternoon, ahead of the new UEFA European Championship qualifying campaign.
Stuart Pearce and a squad of 19 are in the town of Bitola, just 14km from the border with Greece, preparing themselves for the Friday afternoon meeting with their hosts.
On Thursday the team headed down the road to their training ground at the picturesque Tumbe Kafe Stadium, which is home to Macedonian First League outfit FK Pelister.
Pearce and his coaches Steve Wigley, Brian Eastick and Martin Thomas put the players through their paces in the 31 degree heat. On arrival back at the hotel in the town, Pearce spoke to Macedonian TV about the game at FK Pobeda's Goce Delcev Stadium in Prilep.
"This is my first trip to Macedonia and I've been very impressed with how friendly everyone has been," said Pearce.
"Everyonne has been trying to assist the team, anything we've needed in the hotel has been catered for and we're please to be here.
"We feel as though we're in for a difficult match, it'll be very warm for both teams, but we're looking forward to the game and hope to start the group as well as we can."
When asked what to expect of the home side, he added: "From an Under-21 point of view, it's very difficult to judge the strength of a team, even with my team I'm not quite sure how strong we are yet, until we play some matches.
"Macedonia are playing their first game in the group at home, it will be important for them in front of their own crowd to put in a performance, and we're aware of that.
"We have the game against Greece, which will be another tough game. I think this group is going to be tight and I think many of the teams will take points off each other in the group."
England’s first match is on Friday at 2.30pm (BST) at the 15,000 capacity Goce Delcev Stadium in Prilep, home to Macedonia First Division outfit FK Pobeda. They then fly to Tripoli in Greece for their second game on Tuesday evening, ko 5.00pm (BST).
To stay up to date with the Under-21s throughout their campaign, stay logged on to TheFA.com or become a Fan of Stuart Pearce's team on Facebook