England boss Fabio Capello and team manager Franco Baldini were both in the dressing room before England U21's 3-0 victory over Republic of Ireland last night.
"They know there is a link," said U21 coach Stuart Pearce, who himself is on Capello's staff. "If he (Capello) was going to send a message it was to win the game."
Portugal can still win the group with a win against Pearce's men but 19 points should be enough for one of the best runners-up places in the play-offs.
"We're in the play-off with a game to spare," Pearce said.