sport

Eng U21 v N Ire U21 preview

England's Under-21 side will step up their European Championship preparations with a friendly date against Northern Ireland on Tuesday.

Stuart Pearce's side booked their place at next summer's tournament after seeing off Serbia in an eventful two-legged play-off.

A fixture at Blackpool's Bloomfield Road home in midweek will see the Young Lions take to the field for the first time since ugly scenes and a racism row marred what should have been a scene of celebration.

Pearce is, however, keen for his players to put the events of the past firmly behind them and focus their attention on future challenges.

His record at major tournaments makes for impressive reading - with a semi-final appearance and a runners-up finish glossing over a largely disappointing challenge in 2011.

The Young Lions will be hoping to get their hands on the silverware in 2013, and will be aware of the need to establish momentum before heading to Israel.

Northern Ireland may have struggled through their qualifying campaign, taking just four points off the Faroe Islands, but they are sure to raise their game for an international derby clash.

Pearce has seen three players pulled from his pre-match plans, with Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha having been drafted into the senior squad while Blackburn midfielder Jason Lowe and Newcastle forward Sammy Ameobi have withdrawn through injury.

Leicester striker Martyn Waghorn has been called up as cover, with the 22-year-old brought back into the fold after impressing during the opening stages of England's successful qualifying bid.

He joins Foxes team-mate Liam Moore in Pearce's thoughts, with the teenage defender having been included in the U21 set-up for the first time.

Northern Ireland have handed call-ups to three uncapped players, with Gillingham loanee Tom Flanagan, Fulham defender Liam Donnelly and Nottingham Forest midfielder David Morgan all hoping to make their bow.