Stuart Pearce is desperate to block book a set of airline tickets to Israel next June but partying on Tel Aviv's beaches, sight-seeing in Jerusalem and rejuvenation by the Dead Sea are the last things on his mind.
The England Under-21 coach knows that experience of tournament football at junior levels is a key factor in producing players equipped to eventually help their country's senior sides succeed during World Cups.
If Pearce's current crop can overcome Serbia in the second leg of a play-off in the central Serbian city of Krusevac on Tuesday evening they will qualify for the 2013 European Under-21 Championship in Israel.
The plan is that the attendant experience of learning to be "good tourists" amid intense competition, and Middle Eastern heat, will prove ideal preparation for those Under-21s expected to graduate to Roy Hodgson's senior side in time for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The good news is that England hold a 1-0 lead from last week's first leg at Carrow Road. Less positively, the atmosphere will be hostile and Pearce's side are weakened by injuries, a situation exacerbated when Manchester City's Jack Rodwell returned to the Etihad Stadium over the weekend after complaining of a tight hamstring.
"We're disappointed for Jack but I know what I've got in this squad and I know they're good enough to see the job through," said Pearce.
"We've had a lot of injuries to contend with throughout this qualification campaign so it's not a challenge we're unfamiliar with. I know my players and I'm no less confident in our chances."
Much will be expected of two individuals struggling to get a game for their clubs. In Rodwell's absence, Liverpool's Jordan Henderson, Pearce's captain, will need to take more responsibility in midfield, while Connor Wickham – very much a forgotten man at Sunderland – may lead the attack.
With Serbia renowned as physically daunting opponents the evening will represent a big test for Pearce's creative talents, including Liverpool's Raheem Sterling, Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha, Josh McEachran, the Chelsea midfielder on loan at Middlesbrough, and Blackpool's Tom Ince. It will be intriguing to see who, out of that quartet, starts and who begins on the bench.
"Serbia were very physical so we know it will be tough," said Jack Butland, the Birmingham City goalkeeper whose clean sheet last Friday could prove invaluable in front of a 14,000 sell out crowd at the Miadost Stadium, home of Serbian First League side FK Napradek. "We're a goal up and they've not got an away goal so it was a job well done on Friday. We know that if we don't concede we're through, but we intend to score on Tuesday."
The Under-21s have not conceded a goal in four games since last November, when they lost 2-1 to Belgium, and Henderson is confident they can extend this impressive run. "We're playing some good stuff at the moment," he said. "Everyone's enjoying it but we know we've got to be up for it. It's good to come to places like this where you wouldn't normally go on holiday and see the world in a different way – although we know we're not here for sightseeing."
One thing Pearce's players have done at their base in Nis is watch Felix Baumgartner break the sound barrier courtesy of his world-record breaking freefall dive on Sunday. Qualifying for Israel 2013 would not represent quite as dramatic a leap for England's juniors but it could yet prove invaluable once Brazil 2014 begins.
England (4-2-3-1, possible): Butland; Smith, Caulker, Dawson, Rose; Henderson, Lowe; Zaha, McEachran, Sterling; Wickham.
Serbia (4-5-1, possible): Aleksic; Gudelj, Medojevic, Pantic, Miadenovic; Lazovic, Milivejevic, Markovic, Milunovic, Malbasic; Despotovic.
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