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Nic Ladds 11th Jun 2009 - 8:49

Only a Psycho would oppose England surely?

Stuart Pearce's England are 1/3 with bookies William Hill to get their European Under-21 Championship campaign off to flier against 13/2 Finland in Sweden.

As a club manager Pearce has had his critics but there's one thing we can always guarantee from any side managed by the hardest left-back of all time - COMMITMENT.

Can you think of anyone harder than Psycho? Okay maybe Chuck Norris, Mr T, Carlin from Scum or Bruce Lee, but that's about it.

I think it is safe for football punters to assume that Pearce will have his men honed and hungry for the task in hand and it would be no surprise if they go one better than the 2007 Under-21 European Championships when they lost to hosts and eventual winners Netherlands 12-13 on penalties in the semi-finals.

We all hope they can give us a decent run to the final. Well maybe not all of us, we must remember to make an exception for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger who doesn't want to see his precious commodity Theo Walcott (5/1 first scorer)over-exerted in the off season.

The Young Lions kick-off their campaign in confident mood - they recorded eight wins from ten fixtures on the road to Sweden and recently thrashed Azerbaijan 7-0 in their final warm up game.

I look at a squad that contains the likes of Theo Walcott, Gabriel Agbonlahor (even money anytime scorer), Frazier Campbell (even money anytime scorer) and Micah Richards (8/1 anytime) and the words that immediately come to mind are "searing pace".

If there are two faster men in the Premier League than Arsenal's Walcott and Aston Villa's Agbonlahor I haven't seen them and it's hard not to imagine them carving out chance after chance against a Finnish side that simply isn't in the same parish in terms of class.

England are 4/5 score in both halves.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves, England haven't won this tournament for 25 years and they've had some handy U-21 sides since then.

The last time these two sides met on Scandinavian soil the Finns earned a creditable 2-2 draw (25/1 for a repeat of that score line) and although that game was played in Finland the match outsiders can expect some healthy local support in Halmstad.

"A lot of Finns live in the south of Sweden," said Finland skipper Tim Sparv in the lead up to the game. The former team mate of Walcott at Southampton added: "I expect them (the supporters) to come and watch and support us and hopefully see us win."

There is little doubt that the Finns will have a significant support which might alert punters to those draw odds Hills are offering at 16/5.

Further encouragement is offered by the character the Finns demonstrated when qualifying for this eight team event by beating Austria in a play-off.

Markku Kanerva's men lost the first leg 2-1 away from home and were 3-1 down on aggregate in the second leg but fought back to claim a penalty shoot-out victory so they will be no-pushovers.

Historically, England have played Finland six times in competitive Under-21 matches with England winning four, drawing one and losing one.

The last time the two teams met, in Bolton on March 2002, England won 3-0.

England Under-21 squad:

Joe Hart (Manchester City), Joe Lewis (Peterborough), Scott Loach (Watford);

Martin Cranie (Portsmouth), Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal), Michael Mancienne (Chelsea), Nedum Onuoha (Manchester City), Micah Richards (Manchester City), Andrew Taylor (Middlesbrough), Richard Stearman (Wolves), James Tomkins (West Ham);

Lee Cattermole (Wigan), Andrew Driver (Hearts), Craig Gardner (Aston Villa), Adam Johnson (Middlesbrough), James Milner (Aston Villa), Fabrice Muamba (Bolton), Mark Noble (West Ham), Jack Rodwell (Everton), Danny Rose (Tottenham);

Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa), Frazier Campbell (Manchester United)

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