Stephen Kenny has been handed a difficult draw for the Under-21 European qualifying campaign as the Republic of Ireland have been placed in a group alongside Italy and Sweden. 

Iceland, Armenia and Luxembourg are also in the Group 1 with Ireland for the 2021 European championships  in Hungary and Slovenia.

The nine group winners qualify automatically for the finals in 2021. 

Runners-up with the best records against the teams first, third, fourth and fifth in their group will go into a play-off to determine the remaining berths.

Matches begin on 24 March at home to Luxembourg, with Kenny set to leave his role with one game to go in the campaign which is Italy away. 

The former Dundalk boss' final game will be away to Luxembourg on 31 March, after which, Kenny is set to take over from Mick McCarthy in the summer of 2020. 

Kenny said: "There are a number of teams in our group with great pedigree. Italy got to the Under-19 European Championship finals recently so to test ourselves against these teams is going to be a great experience.

"With the two hosts qualifying automatically, there are only two play-off spots for qualification which in reality means we've got to finish top to qualify. For us to do that, we'll have to achieve something extraordinary. 

"It's great to start the campaign in March at home and four home games next year for us which is exciting for the players. We won't have much preparation time before the first game but that is the challenge and I'm really looking forward to it.

"I need to go out and see all of the players across Ireland, England and Scotland to see which players are in form and who could come into the squad for March. The work starts straight away."