England will be facing Northern Ireland in an Under-21 matchup at Bloomfield Road in Blackpool on Tues. Nov. 13. This game will be a tune up for the English before next summer’s Under-21 European Championship tournament. England earned a spot in the event after beating Serbia in a two-legged playoff showdown. The matchup with Serbia turned into an ugly affair with on-pitch fighting as well as accusations of racism against the Serbian squad.
Sportsbook Bet365.com has the latest wagering odds on the match with an England victory at 1/12 and a Northern Ireland win at 25/1. A draw is posted at 7/1.
However, manager Stuart Pearce is hoping that his players will have put the past behind them and will be focusing solely on the future as they prepare for the tournament. Pearce has done well getting his teams into major tournaments, but they often fall apart when faced with winning the biggest matches. He’s taken them to a semi-final appearance over the past few years as well as winning a runners-up medal. They made it to the last four in 2007 and lost 4-0 to Germany in the final in 2009, while the team didn’t advance past the group stage at last year’s tournament.
The nation is hoping that trend finally changes in 2013 and the squad will be able to bring home the silverware from Israel. Northern Ireland didn’t do too well in tournament qualifying with just four points earned, and all against the lowly Faroe Islands. They usually find themselves motivated and at their best when taking on England though, even if it is a friendly.
Pearce will have to play the game without the services of forwards Sammy Ameobi of Newcastle and midfielder Jason Lowe of Blackburn as they’re both on the sidelines due to injuries. In addition, forward Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace will miss the game since he’s been called up by manager Roy Hodgson and will be in England’s senior national squad for their game in Sweden on Wednesday.
This has allowed Pearce to call up 22-year-old striker Martyn Waghorn of Leicester. He played with the team earlier in the year during their early qualifying games. His Leicester teammate, teenage defender Liam Moore, has also been called up to the squad for the first time. For Northern Ireland, the squad will welcome three new players. These are Gillingham’s Tom Flanagan, defender Liam Donnelly of Fulham, and midfielder David Morgan of Nottingham Forest.
England’s Under-21 team usually manages a goal or two each game when playing friendlies or qualifying matches and then often dry up in tournament games, Look for them to put at least a couple past Northern Ireland in this match. They should also do enough to earn a win.