England's U21s are to kick-off a busy 2011 with a friendly date against Italy in Tuscany on 8th February.
Stuart Pearce is currently in the process of readying his side for a shot at European Championship glory and is eager for the best possible preparations to be undertaken.
That means testing his team against competitive opposition, hence the arrangement of a clash with Italy.
The two nations last met at U21 level in 2007, when they shared a 2-2 draw at the European Championships in Holland.
With that event set to be staged in Denmark this year from 11th June, Pearce believes a meeting with Italy will provide ideal preparation for his troops.
"It's the start of a big year for us, and one where our credentials will be tested by some good footballing nations, particularly in the finals," he said.
"Italy will give us the type of test that we will need in preparation for the summer, and the game will also give players a chance to start staking a claim for a squad place at the tournament.
"Everyone will have had a bit of a break from the international scene, so I'll be looking forward to the players coming back refreshed and with real focus for England duty."
England are to face Spain, Ukraine and Czech Republic in the group stage of the 2011 European U21 Championship.