England U21s handed tough draw

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England have been handed arguably the toughest possible draw for next summer's UEFA Under-21 Championship finals after landing Spain, Czech Republic and Ukraine in the group stage.

Stuart Pearce's men, who were runners-up in 2009 and semi-finalists two years earlier, appeared to pay the price for narrowly failing to secure seeded status for the tournament in Denmark as they found themselves in a strong looking Group B.

Group A looks on paper to have been much easier, containing hosts Denmark, Switzerland, Belarus and Iceland, who were seeded ahead of England by the narrowest of margins.

Denmark were the other top seeds courtesy of their status as tournament hosts, and England would have been seeded ahead of Iceland had they won both legs of their play-off against Romania instead of recording a win and a draw.

England drew Spain for the second time in a row, having beaten them during the group phase in 2009.

And they will begin next summer's campaign against the Spanish on June 12 in Herning, where they will also play Ukraine four days later.

They then take on Czech Republic in Viborg on June 19, with the top two from the group securing semi-final spots.

Unlike senior tournaments such as the World Cup and European Championship, seedings for the Under-21 Championship are based solely on results during the qualifying campaign and play-off matches.

Czech Republic were top seeds after winning nine and drawing one of their matches, while Spain were also seeded having won eight of their 10 games.

Ukraine cannot be taken lightly either, having reached the play-off round unbeaten before edging past Holland to secure their finals spot.

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