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Page last updated at 11:22 GMT, Friday, 12 September 2008 12:22 UK

England & Wales in U21 play-off

Wales Under-21 boss Brian Flynn and England Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce
England Under-21 boss Stuart Pearce will lock horns with Wales' Brian Flynn

England and Wales have been drawn to face each other in a play-off for a place at next summer's Uefa European Under-21 Championship.

Wales will be at home in the first leg, likely to be on 10 October, with the return expected to be on 14 October.

England finished top of their group and Wales earned a play-off spot by beating Romania 3-0 this week.

Germany play France in one of the other play-offs, with the seven winners joining hosts Sweden at the tournament.

England Under-21 boss Stuart Pearce led his team to the semi-finals last year, when they lost in a penalty shoot-out against Holland.

And Pearce will push for Theo Walcott to be included in his European Championship squad if England qualify for the next tournament.

Walcott is expected to be in the senior squad when the Under-21s face the Welsh, and the Arsenal youngster looks to have established himself in boss Fabio Capello's plans after his hat-trick in Croatia.

But Pearce said: "Next summer, our last senior match is on 10 June, after that everyone will be available to play in the Under-21 tournament, no matter what experience they've had in the seniors during the season.

"The main thing is whether it is right for the player. Giving the player the experience of a tournament is absolutely crucial - that has been driving us from the first game of the qualification campaign.

"My main drive from offset, and message I've given to the players when we started the tournament, is that we're in this tournament to try to win it.

"We're not here to make up the numbers or just to get to the finals. You have to have it on your mind that there are 15 matches to play to win this tournament."

Brian Flynn's Wales side, who looked impressive against the Romanians, are likely to provide England with a stiff test.

England won 2-0, with goals from Tom Huddlestone and Walcott, when the two teams met in a friendly at Wrexham in May.

However, Wales Under-21 assistant coach Alan Curtis says England are likely to face a much-changed side.

At least half of the team that started the friendly will likely be part of the Wales senior side for World Cup qualifiers against Liechtenstein and Germany.

Although players such as Wayne Hennessey, Sam Vokes and Chris Gunter will be with manager John Toshack, Wales can still call on players of the calibre of Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey.

"It will probably be a completely different side to the one that lined up in the friendly," Curtis said.

"We fact that we topped our group shows just what a talented squad they are.

"I suppose we could have had an easier game but, having said that, even without speaking to the boys, they'll be really excited and looking forward to it.

"The England players are going to be fairly well known to our players, but I'm not sure how much they'll know about the players we've got in our squad.

"The English squad will be based mainly on Premier League players with some Championship, but we draw our players from the four leagues and Wrexham.

"But whichever team we put out, I think England will realise very quickly that they're in a very difficult game."

Uefa European Under-21 Championship play-off draw:

Germany v France
Denmark v Serbia
Turkey v Belarus
Austria v Finland
Wales v England
Italy v Israel
Switzerland v Spain

see also
Romania U21 0-3 Wales U21
09 Sep 08 |  Internationals
England U21 2-0 Portugal U21
05 Sep 08 |  Internationals
Wales U21 0-2 England U21
15 May 08 |  Internationals
England U-21 3-0 Rep of Ire U-21
05 Feb 08 |  Internationals

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