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Holders Russia kick off new season

Holders Russia kick off the 2013/14 qualifying round on home soil on 21 September with debutants Gibraltar also among the 52 nations aiming to move a step closer to Malta.

Russia will hope to emulate the 2013 squad, now heading for the FIFA U-17 World Cup
Russia will hope to emulate the 2013 squad, now heading for the FIFA U-17 World Cup ©Sportsfile

The road to the 2014 UEFA European Under-17 Championship in Malta begins in one month's time when the first of the 13 qualifying round groups kick off.

Holders Russia, who clinched the title for the second time in Slovakia last May, stage the first of the groups with an entirely new squad, welcoming last season's finals hosts – who made the semis – as well as Iceland and Azerbaijan. Italy, beaten on penalties in the 2013 decider by Russia, begin on 19 October in Lithuania with a section containing the other side that made the last four, Sweden, and a nation the Azzurrini knocked out in the group stage, Ukraine.

On 24 October, Gibraltar make their U17 debut against the Republic of Ireland in a section also containing England and hosts Armenia. The last group is played between 14 and 19 November in Northern Ireland, involving Turkey, Latvia and Luxembourg.

The top two in each section, along with the third-placed team with the best record against the leading pair, will join top seeds Germany in the elite round in spring 2014. Seven countries will emerge from that round to face Malta in the finals.

Qualifying round
Group 1 (18-23 October): Belarus, Romania, Finland, Albania*

Group 2 (19-24 October): Italy, Sweden, Ukraine, Lithuania*

Group 3 (22-27 October): Czech Republic, France, Israel*, Liechtenstein

Group 4 (23-28 September): Scotland, Hungary, Slovenia*, Wales

Group 5 (8-13 October): Croatia, Portugal, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina*

Group 6 (1-6 October): Greece, Serbia*, Estonia, Andorra

Group 7 (24-29 October): Republic of Ireland, England, Gibraltar, Armenia*

Group 8 (25-30 September): Norway, Spain, Cyprus*, Moldova

Group 9 (14-19 November): Northern Ireland*, Turkey, Latvia, Luxembourg

Group 10 (21-26 September): Russia* (holders), Iceland, Slovakia, Azerbaijan

Group 11 (17-22 October): Georgia*, Netherlands, San Marino, Faroe Islands

Group 12 (26 September-1 October): Denmark*, Switzerland, Kazakhstan, Austria

Group 13 (17-22 October): Belgium, Poland, Bulgaria, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*

*Hosts