England women handed straightforward passage to Euro 2017

England's women's side have been handed a relatively straightforward route to the 2017 European Championships in the Netherlands.

On Monday afternoon UEFA made the draw for the qualifiers of the 2017 Women’s European Championship. The four home nation countries plus the Republic of Ireland discovered who they would play for the right to take part in the tournament hosted in the Netherlands in two years’ time.

England were drawn in Group 7 against Belgium, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Estonia. The trickiest match comes against Belgium. Mark Sampson’s team are ranked sixth in the world with the Belgians the highest opposition in 26th place.

The winners of all eight groups will automatically qualify alongside the six best runners-up, with the lowest ranked teams that finish second going into a play-off.

Scotland will have strong hopes of qualification having drawn Belarus, Slovenia and Macedonia. Iceland were drawn from Pot A although they are only one place above 21st ranked Scotland in the World Rankings.

In Group 2, the Republic of Ireland were drawn against 14th ranked Spain, Finland, Portugal and Montenegro. With the Irish side ranked 31st in the world; it represents a great opportunity for them to make the tournament.

Northern Ireland have a mountain to climb if they are to find a way past Italy and World Cup participants Switzerland in Group 6. Wales have a similarly tough task and have to get past Norway and Austria to try and reach the Netherlands in 2017.

The competition has been expanded to 16 teams for the first time, giving more teams the opportunity to reach their first ever tournament. Germany won the 12-team edition in 2013, beating Norway 1-0 in the final in Sweden.

England finished bottom of their group and will be hoping for progress should they qualify for the finals.

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