England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland await Euro 2016 qualification fate

The finals, which will be hosted in France, will now consist of 24 countries as opposed to 16, and Uefa president Michel Platini hit back at critics of the new format
The home nations await their fate as the 2016 European Championship qualifying draw takes place on Sunday morning.

The finals, which will be hosted in France, will now consist of 24 countries as opposed to 16 following a Uefa Congress vote in 2009.

The draw takes place in Nice at 11:00 GMT.

England are one of the nine top seeds, Scotland and Wales are seeded fourth, while Northern Ireland are among the fifth seeds.

In total there are 54 nations, including newcomers Gibraltar, who will be drawn into eight groups of six teams and one group of five.

Uefa president Michel Platini has faced criticism for the expansion of the tournament from 16 to 24 nations but hit back at accusations claiming the new format will reduce quality.

"If they don't like it they shouldn't play in that case,” Platini told reporters.

"It was a decision that was taken by the vast majority. Two or three such as England and Germany were not in favour but 50 supported the proposal. Even if England and Germany are not happy with it, that's democracy.

"It is obvious you can have 24 very good teams and when I looked at the dry run draw this morning it is clear there is going to be a lot of pressure to qualify and that it is going to be just as difficult.

"The five or six biggest teams should have little problem but from the 15th to the 40th teams they will be fighting very, very hard."

Platini also reiterated his desire to end the “stupid” ‘triple punishment’ rule of a penalty, red card and suspension following Wojciech Szczesny’s dismissal in Arsenal’s Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

Uefa’s executive committee has proposed that the law should be examined at next week's meeting of the International Football Association Board.

"For 15 years we have been trying to change this rule. All the technical committees of Uefa and Fifa are against this but when it has gone to the International Board it doesn't change," said Platini.

"Arsene Wenger said the referee killed the game but the referee had no choice - he has to respect this stupid rule."