International: England U21 v Italy U21 preview
By Pete Hall @Pistolpeteh86. Last Updated: 07/06/13 10:14am
Wilfried Zaha: Could be England's main threat in Tel Aviv
Stuart Pearce's England look to get their European U21 Championship campaign off to a positive start against Italy on Wednesday.
On the back of nine wins in a row, scoring 22 and without conceding a single goal in the process, the Young Lions are in good shape ahead of their tournament opener.
Pearce will be looking to put the demons of 2011 to bed and, having
masterminded four consecutive finals appearances, a record no other side competing in Israel can boast, he will be looking to draw on experience to do just that.
However, the failure to progress past the group stages in Denmark two years ago will weigh heavy on the Young Lions boss' mind, and he is all too aware of the difficult opener his side have been handed.
Italy are many people's favourites in Tel Aviv with the talented squad that coach Devis Mangia has to choose from.
With senior internationals Mattia Destro, Fabio Borini and PSG star Marco Verratti in the Azzurrini squad, England will have to be at their best to get anything out of this encounter.
It all makes for an intriguing match-up, with defeat leaving either side with a mountain to climb in such a competitive group including hosts Israel and Norway.
Tottenham left-back Danny Rose and Blackpool winger Tom Ince are suspended for the Tel Aviv clash following the ugly scenes that marred October's play-off win in Serbia.
And Ince's absence means that the England fans will be hoping Manchester United's Wilfried Zaha recovers from his ankle injury to take part in their tournament opener.
Otherwise boss Stuart Pearce confirmed he has no other injury concerns.
Italy star Lorenzo Insigne suffered a minor knee injury in Sunday's training session, but the attacking midfielder hopes to be available.
Midfielder Luca Marrone started to train with the Azzurrini on Sunday following a thigh injury, and should be fit.
Empoli duo Riccardo Saponara and Vasco Regini joined the squad on Monday after their club's Serie B play-off and are in contention for a starting berth.
Previous game's starting line-ups
- 1 Bond
- 2 Keane M
- 3 Garbutt
- 5 Gibson
- 6 Lascelles
- 4 Chalobah
- 10 Carroll
- 8 Pritchard
- 7 Ince
- 9 Kane
- 11 Redmond
Team taken from England U21 vs France U21 (Under-21 International) on Monday 17th November 2014
- 1 Bardi
- 2 D Zappacosta
- 6 Rugani
- 5 Bianchetti
- 3 Biraghi
- 4 Crisetig
- 8 Viviani
- 7 Battocchio
- 10 Berardi
- 9 Belotti
- 11 F Bernardeschi
Team taken from Italy U21 vs Slovakia U21 (European Under-21 Championship Qualifying) on Tuesday 14th October 2014
European Under-21 Championship Group A
European Under-21 Championship Group B