Simon Archer has been handed the toughest possible draw as he bids farewell to the European Championships in the Netherlands.

The Worcester doubles player, twice a men's doubles European champion, is in final year of international badminton but he and partner David Lindley have been paired with the top seeds and holders Martin Lundgaard and Jens Eriksen in their second round match in Den Bosch. The pairs have first-round byes.

Experience will be the name of the game, with the players on court having a combined age of 127, with Lindley the youngest. He is 27 later this month.

Tracey Hallam, who collected gold in the women's singles in last month's Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, looks good for a run to the semi-finals at least. The fifth seed, who reached the quarter-finals in the last Europeans in Geneva two years ago, begins her campaign against Finland's Elina Vaisanen.

Hallam, from Burton on Trent, is likely to have the chance to avenge her defeat in Geneva if she reaches the last four since Germany's Xu Huaiwen - her conqueror two years ago - is expected to be her opponent.

Coventry's Jill Pittard is seeded No 16 and will face Kamila Augustyn, of Poland, in the first round.

After the team competition, the individuals start today, with England's best hopes lying with Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms.

Robertson, from Nottingham, and Hertfordshire's Emms, the defending mixed doubles champions and top seeds, will be looking to add the European crown to the Commonwealth gold they collected. But team-mates Anthony Clark (Notts) and Donna Kellogg (Derbyshire), Robert Blair (Leics) and Natalie Munt (Herts), and Kristian Roebuck (Derbyshire) are also seeded three, five and eight respectively.

Emms and Kellogg combine in the women's doubles as favourites, while Munt will now team up with Joanne Nicholas (Lancs) after regular partner Ella Tripp (Cheshire) withdrew. Tripp is pregnant.

In the men's singles, England have three players seeded, with Andrew Smith (Hants) at No 9, Aamir Ghaffar (Middlesex) at No 11 and 2006 national champion Nick Kidd (Avon) at No 16.