Steven Taylor has admitted it will be difficult for England Under 21s to qualify for the 2009 European Championship.
England's first match on the road to the finals in Sweden is against Montenegro on Friday.
It will only be Montenegro's second competitive game as an independent country, but Taylor is more concerned about his team's prospects of coming through a group that also includes Portugal, Republic of Ireland and Bulgaria.
"It's a tough group with some big games," said the England captain, who impressed in this summer's European Championship in Holland.
"It's important we get some results early doors, rather than play catch-up. The squad is good enough to do that if we keep everyone fit.
"What we have to do is make sure we qualify for the championships in two years' time."
Southampton's Andrew Surman is pressing for a place in midfield, after deciding to commit his international future to England rather than South Africa, the country of his birth.
He said: "I consider myself English because even though I was born in South Africa, my mum and dad are English and I've lived here since I was eight.
"Obviously it would have been an honour to play for South Africa as well, as it would be for England, but it would have involved a lot of travelling and this is a good setup with a good manager in Stuart Pearce so it wasn't really a difficult decision."