Euro 2016 - Group E preview

Two of the top-6 favourites for this event are in this Group E, Belgium and Italy. Sweden and Republic of Ireland are the other two that complete a very competitive group.

Belgium are slight favourites ahead of Italy to win the group, but you would expect them both to qualify, whilst Sweden and Republic of Ireland will try and qualify as 1/4 best 3rd placed teams.

Group E

Belgium

Qualifying record:

7 wins, 2 draws, 1 loss

Top scorer:

Eden Hazard & Kevin De Bruyne (5)

Projected top performer:

Eden Hazard - It was well-known and documented last season how poor Hazard was at club level, for the most part anyway.

He fell out with Jose Mourinho, that much is clear however since Guus Hiddink took over and Hazard had earned his trust, it was clear he is every bit as talented as he was last season.

Now he has found some form again, albeit at the tail-end of the season, it is time for him to do the business on the international stage, something I am convinced he will.

Hazard originally looked destined to leave Chelsea earlier this year, but it looks as though he may have reversed that decision and will give new coach, Antonio Conte a chance. If he is still interested in a move to either PSG or Real Madrid, the most obvious suitors, this is the place to impress.

Along with De Bruyne he impressed during qualifying and the pair of them can lead their country to glory. It was a toss-up between the two for which one I preferred as the top performer, but Hazard didn't suffer an injury like De Bruyne's and also has more to prove, which for me gives him the edge.

Expectations:

There is a lot of expectation on Belgium and rightly so. The squad is littered with talent in every position and the semi-finals may well be the minimum expectation.

If each player plays to their full potential they can beat the likes of Germany, France or Spain and now the once, young squad is slightly more experienced they might be ready to take a tournament by storm.

Anything less than the semi-finals will be considered a disappointment, as there is plenty of warranted optimism around this side.

Italy

Qualifying record:

7 wins & 3 draws

Top scorer:

Gratiano Pelle (3)

Projected top performer:

Gianluigi Buffon - Buffon is 38 years old and can still perform at the top-level, something that has to be admired.

Buffon equalled his best performance in a single season with Juventus last year, keeping 21 clean sheets and he will look to take similar form to France this summer.

Italy are not particularly efficient in the attacking department these days and it is their ability to keep it tight in defence that makes them the side that they are.

With Buffon still playing at a high level, he can still be the reason his team makes it as far as possible in this competition and he is most certainly still a match winner.

Expectations:

Italy don't enter competitions without thinking they can win, that is what winning 4 World Cups and 1 European Championship will do to you, but honestly I do not think they have the squad to do it this year.

Up front, Graziano Pelle is their most prolific goalscorer with 5 international goals in 13 games. Eder, Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne and Simone Zaza only have a combined 6 goals in 43 games between them, with Immobile the most experienced, joining Pelle on 13 caps.

Whilst a good defence goes a long way, it is hard to envisage them getting into the semi-finals without an out-and-out goalscorer, although they have done before. There are probably 6 or 7 teams I would rather pick to win this tournament than them.

Republic of Ireland

Qualifying record:

5 wins, 3 draws, 2 losses (Qualified via play-offs)

Top scorer:

Robbie Keane (5)

Projected top performer:

Shane Long - Whilst Robbie Keane is the most prolific goalscorer and the most experienced player in the side also (67 goals in 143 games), Long is an exceptional player and he can be a huge part of any success.

Long is a very mobile, hard-working forward who creates as much as he does score and with his work ethic he should cause lots of problems for all the defences in this group.

He is a bright spark and whilst his side have very little chance of progressing, he can without a doubt put in some eye-catching performances.

After a successful season at club level for Southampton he may well be on the radar for a big summer move, with reports that Liverpool are interested. Like many others he will be keen to show what he can do on the biggest stage.

Expectations:

None. Irish coaches, players and fans will just be happy with being involved in the tournament and if they were to somehow sneak through the group, even in 3rd place it would be a massive over-achievement.

This is just Ireland's 3rd appearance at the European Championships in the side's history and they have never progressed from the group stage.

I cannot see that changing this time around and fully expect them to suffer a swift exit from the tournament.

Sweden

Qualifying record:

5 wins, 3 draws, 2 losses (Qualified via play-offs)

Top scorer:

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (8)

Projected top performer:

Zlatan Ibrahimovic - Ibrahimovic is without the doubt the best player in this squad and if his team have any chance to progress from the group stage he will need to put them on his shoulders.

He has scored 62 goals in 113 games for his country, an exceptional record and I am sure he will add to that before he ends his international career.

Zlatan loves the attention to be on him and it is that sort of arrogance that makes him so good, which is why he will love the spotlight being on him.

An announcement is expected on 7th June on his future at club level and once that has been confirmed his attention will be solely in France, the place he has called home since 2012.

The former Paris St.Germain man is the only player in Sweden's history to score at three consecutive European Championships (2004,2008,2012) and he has scored 6 goals in the competition in total.

Expectations:

I cannot see Sweden going far, there is only so far you can get when relying one man, especially when that man is ageing.

Ibrahimovic scored 11 goals in 10 international games last year and 50 goals in 51 games at club level in all competitions, so he is showing no signs of slowing down therefore will believe he can get them through to the last-16 at least on his own.

Sweden will probably be battling it out with Republic of Ireland for 1/4 best 3rd placed spots, which could go either way.

Veterans like Kim Kallstrom (128 caps) and Sebastian Larsson (84 caps) will hope to provide support for their superstar striker, but I think they will struggle as a unit.

Euro 2016 - Group D Preview

Group D is far from easy for the reigning european champions, Spain. Croatia and Turkey are both teams capable of causing a shock and you can never count out 1996 runners-up Czech Republic.

Spain

Qualifying record:

9 wins, 1 loss

Top scorer:

Paco Alcácer (5)

Projected top performer:

Andres Iniesta - Despite his advancing years he's still the key cog in that spanish midfield, if Spain are to achieve what must surely be their goal of winning the competition everything will have to go through Iniesta.

With a lack of a clear number 1 striking threat with the top scoring player in qualifying Paco Alcácer not in the squad and Alvaro Morata hardly being the most consistent goal scorer, everything is going to come from that still supremely talented midfield.

Expectations:

Retaining their crown has to be the expectation for Del Bosque, whilst not at the level they used to be they're still a danger for any team they come up against.

Not many countries have a better Goalkeeper in De Gea and the back 4 could be in for a breath of fresh air with Hector Bellerin set to make the right back position his own for a long time.

Czech Republic 

Qualifying record:

7 Wins, 1 draw, 2 Losses

Top scorer:

Bořek Dočkal (4)

Projected top performer:

Petr Cech - When you have one of the worlds best Goalkeepers, this choice becomes very easy. What they lack in attacking ability they make up for in a very good midfield with Tomas Rosicky still being a key performer, he has spent most of the season on the sidelines but if he can find his fitness he can still be on of the most creative forces in the tournament.

Expectations:

This is where it gets tricky, they qualified top of the group with an impressive record, but being handed a tough group is a rough break. It's tough to write them off this early after the impressive qualifying but unfortunately i can't see them progressing past the group stage.

Turkey 

Qualifying record:

5 wins, 3 draws, 2 losses. (qualified as best 3rd placed team)

Top scorer:

Burak Yılmaz (4)

Projected top performer:

Arda Turan - When Barcelona pay £30m for you, well that could go one of two ways. In Turan's case he had a rough first season at the camp nou, not being able to make his debut until January due to Barcas transfer ban he went on to make 18 appearances scoring 2 goals in the second half of the season. The chance to show the world what he can do when competing with the best is something he must be relishing.

The mix of him Sahin and Calhonoglu is an exciting prospect to watch at the euros.

Expectations:

Not making a major international competition for the past 8 years they'll be keen to show the world what they can do.

Making it out of the group will be seen as a success and i fully expect them to do so.

Croatia 

Qualifying record:

6 wins, 3 draws, 1 loss

Top scorer:

Ivan Perišić (6)

Projected top performer:

Ivan Rakitic - Filling in to Xavi's boots would daunt most midfielders, not Ivan though. He took up the role and ran with it becoming a key part of Barcelona's midfield.

Lining up along side Modric, Kovacic & Brozovic gives Croatia one of the strongest midfields in the whole competition.

12 goals in 68 games for Barca is impressive when you consider who he's competing with for those goals. The Croatians are my dark horse for the whole competition and Rakitic is key to their success.

Expectations:

As i said in the previous paragraph Croatia are definitely in the dark horse category for the Euros they have a strong midfield and in Mandzukic they have a genuine goal threat that few other teams in the competition have.

(Side note) Croatia also sport the tournaments best kit.

 

 

 

 

 

Euro 2016 - Group C Preview

Another tough group but Germany are clear favourites in this group for a reason and I fully expect them to lead the way.

Germany have a squad full of talent, whereas the rest of the group have workmanlike teams with one or two top players. That may be harsh on Poland who garnered 21 points in qualifying (finishing behind Germany), whilst Northern Ireland performed well in a weaker group and Ukraine just snuck through via the play-offs.

Germany

Qualifying record:

7 wins, 1 draw, 2 losses

Top scorer:

Thomas Muller (9)

Projected top performer:

Thomas Muller - Without a shadow of a doubt, Muller is the man Germany will be relying on to put the ball in the back of the net.

At the 2010 World Cup he won the Golden Boot and at the 2014 World Cup he was the second top goalscorer, so he has a knack for doing it on the big stage.

Despite scoring 3 goals and providing 7 assists in qualifying for Euro 2012, he didn't manage to nail down a spot at the finals and instead, Mario Gomez led the line.

There is no way history will repeat itself. Muller has to start in this tournament, he featured in 9/10 games in qualifying scoring 9 goals (a goal a game ratio) and has also just managed his most prolific scoring season of his career at club level, finding the net 32 times in 49 games in all competitions.

He is not even the main striker at Bayern, fellow Group C player, Robert Lewandowski holds that spot, so despite being seemingly overshadowed for large parts of his career, Muller still gets the job done.

Whilst Gomez enjoyed a great season on loan at Besiktas (26 goals in 32 games) , I still think Muller is the main outlet and if they are going to win this tournament I am sure he will be a big part of it.

Expectations:

Win and nothing else will do. The 2014 World Cup winners are behind France in the betting market, but for me they should be favourites.

France have the home advantage, but Germany strike me as the better team. If you were to question Germany in any position it would be defence, however with the likes of Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels etc. protecting Manual Neur, it is hard to call it a weak link.

They should make it to the semi-finals at least, however if you were to ask me who my pick was in a one and done format, it would be Germany.

Ukraine

Qualifying record:

6 wins, 1 draw, 3 losses

Top scorer:

Andriy Yarmolenko (6)

Projected top performer:

Andriy Yarmolenko - Yarmolenko is an exciting player, who brings flair to a team that desperately needs it.

At club level Yarmolenko has played nearly 200 games for Dynamo Kyiv first team, since joining them in 2007 and he has been on the radar of Premier League clubs for the last few seasons.

Everton and Stoke are known admirers however Dynamo's president, Ihor Surkis was not set on the idea of him joining either side being quoted saying "He is already a top player, so he should go to a top club. My position is that we should not let Yarmolenko go to such clubs as Everton and Stoke City."

If he plays to his full potential, he can grab a couple of goals in the early stages and prove to potential suitors that he is the real deal, but that's about as much as he can do in my opinion. It is now reported that the club will let him go to any interested party should their asking price be met and Yarmolenko is happy with the team he is joining.

Yarmolenko also has a well-known rivalry with international team-mate, Taras Stepanenko who plays for Shakhtar Donetsk. In October 2015 Yarmonlenko nearly broke Stepanenko's leg and whilst the two looked to make up after the game, it didn't last long, as the former threw the shirt the pair had exchanged to the ground when thanking his fans.

In the next meeting Stepanenko kissed the badge in front of the away fans, leading to a brawl between the two where Yarmolenko kicked and beat Stepanenko to the ground.

Tension must be in the air still, even if they put their personal issues to one side for the sake of the team and that cannot be healthy.

Expectations:

Whilst I do think it will be a struggle for Ukraine to even get out of the group, they have been very solid under current head coach, Mykhaylo Fomenko. In his 34 games in charge, Ukraine have won 24, drawn 6 and lost just 4 a good achievement all things considered.

They struggled to qualify from a group that included Slovakia and Spain and as a result had to go through the play-offs, their reward - a very tough group.

I can't see them getting a result against Germany or Poland and anything they can get against Northern Ireland may just be a consolation.

Yarmolenko was as good as ever in qualifying but he is not on the same level as someone like, Gareth Bale who may well able to drag his team through the group stages single-handedly. He may have support on the other wing from Yevhen Konoplyanka and the two can be dynamic in attack, but a team without an out-and-out striker is always going to struggle.

I cannot see Ukraine progressing from the group stages, despite their ability to shut up shop at the back (conceded just 4 goals in qualifying).

Poland

Qualifying record:

6 wins, 3 draws, 1 loss

Top scorer:

Robert Lewandowski (13)

Projected top performer:

Robert Lewandowski - Robert Lewandowski is one of the best strikers in the world and will be keen to put on a show this summer for his country.

He scored 42 goals in 51 games in all competitions at club level and his 13 goals in qualifying for this tournament took him to 34 goals in 76 appearances for his country.

Euro 2012 was his first and only major tournament appearance for his country, as he did not make his debut until after Euro 2008 and Poland failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.

This is his chance to shine. Poland were great in qualifying, he was the top scorer across the whole of Euro 2016 qualifying and he can build on that in France.

Games against Northern Ireland and Ukraine represent great opportunities for him to score plenty of goals and that is why he is only just behind bookies' favourite, Muller in the Top Goalscorer betting.

Muller has the advantage of a better side around him, but Lewandowski has a support cast of his own. Strike partner Akadiusz Milik scored 24 goals in 42 games at club level for Ajax this past season and the 22-year old has already scored 10 goals in 24 games at international level.

If Milik can take some of attention of his partner, Lewandowski could be very dangerous and similarly if all the focus is on Lewandowski it will open up chances for Milik, either way Lewandowski is the key for this team.

Expectations:

Poland have other stars in their ranks including Borussia Dortmund defender, Lukasz Pisczcek and Sevilla midfielder, Grzegorz Krychowiak and the squad looks solid across the board.

This is their best chance in recent years to go deep in a major finals and I do believe they can get to at least the Quarter-finals or even further. I do not think they can win it, as there are a few teams stronger than them, but a team that has a striker with the quality that Lewandoswki possesses will always stand a chance of winning any game on the day.

I fully expect Poland to qualify comfortably to the next round, and a Germany/Poland 1-2 finish looks the most likely outcome in this group.

Northern Ireland

Qualifying record:

6 wins, 3 draws, 1 loss

Top scorer:

Kyle Lafferty (7)

Projected top performer:

Steven Davis - Davis is the captain of the team and arguably the best player amongst the squad.

The midfielder goes quietly about his business popping up with the odd important goal at both club and international level - notably the 2 goals he scored against Greece to help secure his country's spot in the finals.

He has been a regular for his country since making his debut in 2005 and became Northern Ireland's youngest "modern-day" captain 10 years ago, at just 21 years of age.

Davis played a big part in Southampton's successful Premier League season and for a manager like Ronald Koeman to hold in such high regard tells you something about his qualities as a footballer.

Coach, Michael O'Neill also has plenty of good things to say about his captain as, proved in an interview after the Greece game.

"There's all types of captains, but for me Steven epitomises everything you want in a captain; he takes responsibility on the pitch, he drives the team forward, he's an example in terms of how he is as a professional, how he is as a person," he said. He also added "I didn't expect him to score an 18-yard header if I'm honest, but I'm delighted for him to get the goal because in my opinion he's one of the most underrated players in the Premier League, he's a top, top, top player and he showed that again tonight."

Expectations:

Whilst Northern Ireland enjoyed a great qualifying campaign and they will be ecstatic to make it to the finals for the first time in the nation's history, I cannot see the fairytale lasting long.

Germany and Poland are strong opponents and even if they could somehow avoid defeat against either side, they would still have to beat Ukraine, which for me is a 50/50 game.

With the new rules, they could make the last-16 but I really do doubt it and it looks like an early exit for the European Championship newcomers.

A lot of the squad play in the lower leagues so whilst they may have a squad full of players that will put maximum effort in, they unfortunately lack the quality to have any real impact on this elite stage.

They are rank outsiders (500/1) alongside Albania and that is no doubt a fair reflection of their chances. The fans will no doubt enjoy the occasion and it is a good experience for all the players involved, young and old.

Euro 2016 - Group B Preview

Group B, the group that has two of Britain's three hopes in the tournament and arguably the most realistic of them all, England.

Looking to better England will be rivals, Wales as well as Russia and Slovakia. Whilst England may well be the most complete team in the group, each team has some outstanding players.

England

Qualifying record:

10 wins

Top scorer:

Wayne Rooney (7)

Projected top performer:

Harry Kane - Harry Kane had an exceptional season for Tottenham Hotspur and England, scoring 25 goals in 38 Premier League games and also scoring in 2 of the 3 games he played for his country in 2016.

In qualifying, Kane scored 3 goals and given the fact he only played in 5 games in total, that is a pretty decent return.

Kane has multiple options for strike partners with Daniel Sturridge, Jamie Vardy, Marcus Rashford and Wayne Rooney all making the squad and any of those four players can take enough attention away from him to open up chances for the Spurs man to strike.

If England progress into the latter stages of the tournament as expected, Kane may well make a run at the Golden Boot this summer.

Expectations:

Many an optimistic fan will expect England to win the Euros and of course they have every possibility of doing so - the problem is England's record in major tournaments.

They have won just one major tournament, the World Cup 50 years ago. They have gone close since (Euro 96') but since then, they have failed to get past the Quarter-finals in either the Euros of the World Cup and didn't even qualify for Euro 2008.

Their finals pedigree is not great of late so there is reason for concern but this is in an exciting squad this time around, with two red-hot strikers in Kane and Vardy and that may be the difference.

A realistic expectation would be the Quarter-finals but the Semi-finals are also within their reach. If this squad plays to its full potential anything is possible but it will be important for the Three Lions to put a better group performance in than they did two years ago at the World Cup in Brazil.

Russia

Qualifying record:

6 wins, 2 draws, 2 losses

Top scorer:

Artyom Dzyuba (8)

Projected top performer:

Artyom Dzyuba - Alan Dzagoev would have been in the discussion for top performer for this side, had he of not withdrawn from the squad with a broken metatarsal and as a result, Dzyuba will take centre stage.

Dzyuba scored 8 goals, joint most with Zlatan Ibrahimovich in qualifying Group G and Russia will be relying on his goalscoring ability at the tournament.

He has scored 8 goals in 17 appearances for his country and he was equally impressive for his new club, Zenit St. Petersburg in his first season, scoring 15 in 30.

Since he moved to the club from Spartak Moscow last year, he has been a revelation after a largely unsuccessful start to his career.

His game is built around physicality using his height and strength to get himself in goalscoring positions and he will no doubt be the key to any success his nation enjoys.

Expectations:

Russia will be led by Leonid Slutsky this summer, who since taking over from Fabio Capello last year has won 6 of his 9 games in charge, and the 3 he lost were friendlies, so they look in good hands.

In addition to his impressive start as Russia manager, he led his club CSKA Moscow to their third league title since he took over in 2009 and that pedigree of success will be very much welcomed in the camp.

The 2008 semi-finalists will be looking to make the latter stages of a major tournament for only the second time since 1994 and they will have to edge out some good teams in this group to do so.

They are strong enough to beat Slovakia and Wales to make 2nd place if they play to their full potential but this group is wide open and it is difficult to predict. If they do progress from the group I can't see them getting much further and a last-16 exit could well be on the cards.

Wales

Qualifying record:

6 wins, 3 draws, 1 loss

Top scorer:

Gareth Bale (7)

Projected top performer:

Gareth Bale - Whilst it would be unfair to call Wales a one-man team, they are not far off.

Bale has scored more goals for Wales (19) than all the other strikers in the squad combined and the next best scoring outlet for this side is Aaron Ramsey who to his credit has scored 10 from midfield.

The Real Madrid winger can do it all; attack, defend, create and score and as a result he is well and truly the heartbeat of this team.

If Bale is on-form, Wales can win any of the games in this group, if he's not they will struggle - it really is that simple.

Expectations:

When you have to rely so heavily on one player, it is hard to expect an awful lot at this sort of tournament. This will be their first appearance in the finals of a major tournament since 1958 and the second in total.

None of this squad have ever been to a major tournament for their country and whilst they have players such as Bale and Ramsey who have played in big games, this is different stage altogether.

If Bale crumbles under the pressure of the nation on his shoulders it is hard to see any real success for Wales but even if Bale does produce the goods, progressing further than the last-16 would be an over-achievement.

Slovakia

Qualifying record:

7 wins, 1 draw, 2 losses

Top scorer:

Marek Hamsik (5)

Projected top performer:

Marek Hamsik - Hamsik has made 86 appearances (scoring 18 goals) for his country already by the age of 28, showing just how important he is to his international squad.

With Slovakia calling up just two forwards, who have only 7 goals in 43 games between them it is vital Hamsik chips in with the goals for his side, proving once again that he is the main scoring outlet.

He scored 5 in qualifying (2 more than Adam Nemec) and also scored last time out against Germany in a friendly, so he will be looking to reproduce such returns on the big stage.

An important player for club and country the creative midfielder will be relishing the opportunity to represent Slovakia at a majors finals for only the second time since making his debut in 2007. He has only played in one major tournament (2010 World Cup) and he failed to score so he will be looking to make amends this time around.

Expectations:

They only lost twice in qualifying (both times to Austria) and a memorable victory over Germany on the 29th May will give the side some hope  but as aforementioned this is a tough group to solve.

Whilst I wouldn't go as far to say that England are nailed on to win the group I would say they are very much guaranteed to take one of the top-two spots.

This leaves one, possibly two spots left for Slovakia to take, meaning they will need to raise their game to a level above both Russia and Wales to guarantee a spot in the last-16.

I don't see them getting further than the last-16 if they do progress, and Hamsik and co. will be happy to get out of this tough group.

 

The Euro 2016 Teams

Finally we have the complete list of the teams for the Euro 2016 Tournament. Big names that have missed out in Europe this year are Benzema, Reus, Balotelli, Mata, Costa, Trapp, Isco, Kompany and Torres whilst from England Noble, Drinkwater and Townsend all miss the cut. Harry Arter has left the Irish squad due to injury.

The Premier League now represents nearly 20% of the players in the Euro 2016 Championships this year, showing just how dominant this league is and the determination of foreign players to play in it.

Premier League Euro 2016Source: BBC

Home Nations

England Euro 2016 squad

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Fraser Forster (Southampton), Tom Heaton (Burnley). Defenders: Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Everton), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur), Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool). Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Ross Barkley (Everton), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), James Milner (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal). Strikers: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United).

Northern Ireland 2016 squad

Goalkeepers: Alan Mannus (St Johnstone), Michael McGovern (Hamilton Academical), Roy Carroll (Linfield) Defenders: Craig Cathcart (Watford), Jonathan Evans (West Bromwich Albion), Gareth McAuley (West Bromwich Albion), Luke McCullough (Doncaster Rovers), Conor McLaughlin (Fleetwood Town), Lee Hodson (MK Dons), Aaron Hughes (free agent), Patrick McNair (Manchester United), Chris Baird (Derby County) Midfielders: Steven Davis (Southampton), Oliver Norwood, (Reading), Corry Evans, (Blackburn Rovers), Shane Ferguson (Millwall), Stuart Dallas (Leeds United), Niall McGinn (Aberdeen), Jamie Ward (Nottingham Forest) Forwards: Kyle Lafferty (Norwich City), Conor Washington (Queens Park Rangers), Josh Magennis (Kilmarnock), Will Grigg (Wigan Athletic).

Republic of Ireland Euro 2016 squad

Goalkeepers: Darren Randolph (West Ham), Shay Given (Stoke), Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday). Defenders: Cyrus Christie (Derby), Seamus Coleman (Everton), Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa), Richard Keogh (Derby), Shane Duffy (Blackburn), John O’Shea (Sunderland), Stephen Ward (Burnley). Midfielders: James McClean (West Brom), Glenn Whelan (Stoke), James McCarthy (Everton), Jeff Hendrick (Derby), Stephen Quinn (Reading), Wes Hoolahan (Norwich), David Meyler (Hull City), Robbie Brady (Norwich), Aiden McGeady (Everton). Forwards: Jon Walters (Stoke), Shane Long (Southampton), Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), Daryl Murphy (Ipswich).

Wales Euro 2016 squad

Goalkeepers: Wayne Hennessey (Crystal Palace), Daniel Ward (Liverpool), Owain Fon Williams (Inverness Caledonian Thistle). Defenders: Ashley Williams (Swansea City), James Chester (West Bromwich Albion), Ben Davies (Tottenham Hotspur), James Collins (West Ham United), Chris Gunter (Reading), Neil Taylor (Swansea City), Jazz Richards (Fulham). Midfielders: Joe Ledley (Crystal Palace), Joe Allen (Liverpool), David Vaughan (Nottingham Forest), Jonathan Williams (Crystal Palace), David Edwards (Wolverhampton Wanderers), George Williams (Fulham), Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal), Andy King (Leicester City). Forwards: Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), David Cotterill (Birmingham City), Hal Robson-Kanu (Reading), Simon Church (MK Dons), Sam Vokes (Burnley).

European Nations

Albania Euro 2016 squad

Goalkeepers: Etrit Berisha (Lazio), Alban Hoxha (Partizani), Orges Shehi (Skenderbeu). Defenders: Lorik Cana (Nantes), Arlind Ajeti (Frosinone), Mergim Mavraj (FC Cologne), Elseid Hysaj (Napoli), Ansi Agolli (Qarabag), Frederic Veseli (Lugano), Naser Aliji (Basel). Midfielders: Ledjan Memushaj (Pescara), Ergys Kaçe (PAOK), Andi Lila (Giannina), Migjen Basha (Como), Odise Roshi (Rijeka), Burim Kukeli (FC Zurich), Ermir Lenjani (Nantes), Taulant Xhaka (Basel), Armir Abrashi (Freiburg). Forwards: Bekim Balaj (Rijeka), Sokol Cikalleshi (Medipol Baksasehir), Armando Sadiku (Vaduz), Shkelzen Gashi (Colorado Rapids).

Austria Euro 2016 squad

Goalkeepers: Robert Almer (Austria Vienna), Heinz Lindner (Eintracht Frankfurt), Ramazan Oezcan (Ingolstadt). Defenders: Aleksandar Dragovic (Dynamo Kiev), Christian Fuchs (Leicester City), Gyorgy Garics (Darmstadt), Martin Hinteregger (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Florian Klein (Stuttgart), Sebastian Prodl (Watford), Markus Suttner (Ingolstadt), Kevin Wimmer (Tottenham Hotspur). Midfielders: David Alaba (Bayern Munich), Marko Arnautovic (Stoke City), Julian Baumgartlinger (Mainz), Martin Harnik (Stuttgart), Stefan Ilsanker (RB Leipzig), Jakob Jantscher (Lucerne), Zlatko Junuzovic (Werder Bremen), Marcel Sabitzer (RB Leipzig), Alessandro Schoepf (Schalke). Forwards: Lukas Hinterseer (Ingolstadt), Rubin Okotie (1860 Munich), Marc Janko (Basel).

Belgium Euro 2016 squad

Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Jean-François Gillet (Mechelen), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool). Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham), Laurent Ciman (Montreal Impact), Jason Denayer (Galatasaray), Christian Kabasele (Genk), Jordan Lukaku (Oostende), Thomas Meunier (Club Brugge), Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham). Midfielders: Mousa Dembélé (Tottenham), Marouane Fellaini (Manchester Utd), Radja Nainggolan (Roma), Axel Witsel (Zenit). Forwards: Michy Batshuayi (Marseille), Christian Benteke (Liverpool), Yannick Carrasco (Atletico), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Romelu Lukaku (Everton), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Divock Origi (Liverpool).

Croatia Euro 2016 squad

Goalkeepers: Danijel Subasic (Monaco), Lovre Kalinic (Hajduk Split), Ivan Vargic (Rijeka). Defenders: Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moscow), Darijo Srna (Shakhtar Donetsk), Domagoj Vida (Dynamo Kiev), Sime Vrsaljko (Sassuolo), Gordon Schildenfeld (Dinamo Zagreb), Ivan Strinic (Napoli), Tin Jedvaj (Bayer Leverkusen). Midfielders: Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic (both Real Madrid), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona), Marcelo Brozovic (Inter MIlan), Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan), Milan Badelj (Fiorentina), Marko Rog (Dinamo Zagreb), Ante Coric (Dinamo Zagreb). Forwards: Mario Mandzukic (Juventus), Nikola Kalinic (Fiorentina), Marko Pjaca (Dinamo Zagreb), Duje Cop (Dinamo Zagreb), Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim).

Czech Republic Euro 2016 Squad

Goalkeepers: Petr Cech (Arsenal), Tomas Vaclik (Basel), Tomas Koubek (Sparta Prague). Defenders: Theodor Gebre Selassie (Werder Bremen), Pavel Kaderabek (Hoffenheim), David Limbersky (Viktoria Pilsen), Marek Suchy (Basel), Michal Kadlec (Sparta Prague), Tomas Sivok (Bursaspor), Roman Hubnik (Viktoria Pilsen), Daniel Pudil (Sheffield Wednesday). Midfielders: Borek Dockal (Sparta Prague), Jiri Skalak (Brighton), Vladimir Darida (Hertha Berlin), Daniel Kolar (Viktoria Pilsen), Ladislav Krejci (Sparta Prague), Josef Sural (Sparta Prague), David Pavelka (Kasimpasa), Jaroslav Plasil (Bordeaux), Tomas Rosicky (Arsenal). Forwards: Milan Skoda (Slavia Prague), Tomas Necid (Bursaspor), David Lafata (Sparta Prague).

France Euro 2016 squad

Goalkeepers: Benoit Costil (Rennes), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Steve Mandanda (Marseille). Defenders: Lucas Digne (Roma), Patrice Evra (Juventus), Christophe Jallet (Lyon), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Eliaquim Mangala (Manchester City), Samuel Umtiti (Lyon), Bacary Sagna (Manchester City), Adil Rami (Sevilla) Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Crystal Palace), Lassana Diarra (Marseille), N'Golo Kante (Leicester City), Blaise Matuidi (Paris St-Germain), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle United). Forwards: Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Andre-Pierre Gignac (Tigres), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Anthony Martial (Manchester United), Dimitri Payet (West Ham United)

Germany Euro 2016 squad

Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Bernd Leno (Bayer Leverkusen), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona)  Defenders: Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Emre Can (Liverpool), Jonas Hector (Cologne), Benedikt Howedes (Schalke 04), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Shkodran Mustafi (Valencia), Antonio Ruediger (Roma) Midfielders: Julian Draxler (VfL Wolfsburg), Sami Khedira (Juventus), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Lukas Podolski (Galatasaray), Andre Schurrle (VfL Wolfsburg), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Manchester United), Julian Weigl (Borussia Dortmund) Forwards: Mario Gomez (Besiktas), Mario Gotze (Bayern Munich), Leroy Sane (Schalke 04).

Hungary Euro 2016 squad

Goalkeepers: Gabor Kiraly (Haladas), Denes Dibusz (Ferencvaros), Peter Gulacsi (Leipzig). Defenders: Attila Fiola (Puskas Academy), Barnabas Bese (MTK Budapest), Richard Guzmics (Wisla Krakow), Roland Juhasz (Videoton), Adam Lang (Videoton), Tamas Kadar (Lech Poznan), Mihaly Korhut (Debrecen). Midfielders: Adam Pinter (Ferencvaros), Gergo Lovrencsics (Lech Poznan), Akos Elek (Diosgyor), Zoltan Gera (Ferencvaros), Adam Nagy (Ferencvaros), Laszlo Kleinheisler (Werden Bremen), Zoltan Stieber (Hamburg). Forwards: Balazs Dzsudzsak (Bursaspor), Adam Szalai (Hoffenheim), Krisztian Nemeth (Al Gharafa), Nemanja Nikolics (Legia Warsaw), Tamas Priskin (Slovan Bratislava), Daniel Bode (Ferencvaros).

Iceland Euro 2016 squad

Goalkeepers: Hannes Halldorsson (Bodo/Glimt), Ogmundur Kristinsson (Hammarby), Ingvar Jonsson (Sandefjord) Defenders: Ari Skulason (OB), Hordur Magnússon (Juventus), Hjortur Hermannsson (PSV Eindhoven), Ragnar Sigurdsson (Krasnodar), Kari Arnason (Malmo), Sverrir Ingi Ingason (Lokeren), Birkir Saevarsson (Hammarby), Haukur Heidar Hauksson (AIK) Midfielders: Emil Hallfredsson (Udinese), Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea), Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff), Theodor Elmar Bjarnason (AGF), Arnor Ingvi Traustason (Norrkoping), Birkir Bjarnason (Basel), Johann Gudmundsson (Charlton), Runar Mar Sigurjonsson (Sundsvall) Forwards: Kolbeinn Sigthorsson (Nantes), Alfred Finnbogason (Augsburg), Jon Dadi Bodvarsson (Kaiserslautern), Eidur Gudjohnsen (Molde).

Italy Euro 2016 squad

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Federico Marchetti (Lazio), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris St-Germain). Defenders: Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Angelo Ogbonna (West Ham). Midfielders: Federico Bernardeschi (Fiorentina), Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Matteo Darmian (Manchester United), Daniele de Rossi (Roma), Mattia de Sciglio (Milan), Stephan El Shaarawy (Roma), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Emanuele Giaccherini (Bologna), Thiago Motta (Paris St-Germain), Marco Parolo (Lazio), Stefano Sturaro (Juventus). Forwards: Eder (Sampdoria), Ciro Immobile (Torino), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Graziano Pelle (Southampton), Simone Zaza (Juventus).

Poland Euro 2016 Squad

Goalkeepers: Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea City), Wojciech Szczesny (AS Roma), Artur Boruc (Bournemouth) Defenders: Thiago Cionek (Palermo), Kamil Glik (Torino), Artur Jedrzejczyk (FK Krasnodar), Michal Pazdan (Legia Warsaw), Lukasz Piszczek (Borussia Dortmund), Bartosz Salamon (Cagliari), Jakub Wawrzyniak (Lechia Gdansk) Midfielders: Jakub Blaszczykowski (Borussia Dortmund), Kamil Grosicki (Rennes), Tomasz Jodlowiec (Legia Warsaw), Bartosz Kapustka (Cracovia), Grzegorz Krychowiak (Sevilla), Karol Linetty (Lech Poznan), Krzysztof Maczynski (Wisla), Slawomir Peszko (Lechia Gdansk), Filip Starzynski (Zaglebie Lubin), Piotr Zielinski (Udinese) Forwards: Arkadiusz Milik (Ajax), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Mariusz Stepinski (Ruch Chorzow).

Portugal Euro 2016 squad

Goalkeepers: Rui Patricio (Sporting), Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Eduardo (Dínamo Zagreb). Defenders: Vieirinha (Wolfsburg), Cedric (Southampton), Pepe (Real Madrid), Ricardo Carvalho (Monaco), Bruno Alves (Fenerbahce), Jose Fonte (Southampton), Eliseu (Benfica), Raphael Guerreiro (Lorient). Midfielders: William Carvalho (Sporting), Danilo Pereira (Porto), Joao Moutinho (Monaco), Renato Sanches (Bayern Munich), Adrien Silva (Sporting), Andre Gomes (Valencia), Joao Mario (Sporting). Forwards: Rafa Silva (Braga), Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas), Nani (Fenerbahce), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Eder (Lille).

Romania Euro 2016 squad

Goalkeepers: Ciprian Tatarusanu (Fiorentina), Costel Pantilimon (Watford, Silviu Lung (Astra Giurgiu). Defenders: Cristian Sapunaru (Pandurii Targu Jiu), Alexandru Matel (Dinamo Zagreb), Vlad Chiriches (Napoli), Valerica Gaman (Astra Giurgiu), Dragos Grigore (Al-Sailiya), Cosmin Moti (Ludogorets Razgrad), Razvan Rat (Rayo Vallecano), Steliano Filip (Dinamo Bucharest). Midfielders: Mihai Pintilii (Steaua Bucharest), Ovidiu Hoban (Hapoel Be’er Sheva), Andrei Prepelita (Ludogorets Razgrad), Adrian Popa (Steaua Bucharest), Gabriel Torje (Osmanlispor), Alexandru Chipciu (Steaua Bucharest), Nicolae Stanciu (Steaua Bucharest), Lucian Sanmartean (Al Ittihad). Forwards: Claudiu Keseru (Ludogorets Razgrad), Bogdan Stancu (Genclerbirligi), Florin Andone (Cordoba), Denis Alibec (Astra Giurgiu).

Russia Euro 2016 squad

Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow), Yuri Lodygin (Zenit St Petersburg), Guilherme (Lokomotiv Moscow). Defenders: Aleksei Berezutski (CSKA Moscow), Vasili Berezutski (CSKA Moscow), Sergei Ignashevich (CSKA Moscow), Dmitri Kombarov (Spartak Moscow), Roman Neustadter (Schalke 04), Georgi Schennikov (CSKA Moscow), Roman Shishkin (Lokomotiv Moscow), Igor Smolnikov (Zenit St Petersburg). Midfielders: Igor Denisov (Dynamo Moscow), Dmitri Torbinski (Krasnodar), Aleksandr Golovin (CSKA Moscow), Denis Glushakov (Spartak Moscow), Oleg Ivanov (Terek Grozny), Pavel Mamaev (Krasnodar), Aleksandr Samedov (Lokomotiv Moscow), Oleg Shatov (Zenit St Petersburg), Roman Shirokov (CSKA Moscow). Forwards: Artem Dzyuba (Zenit), Aleksandr Kokorin (Zenit), Fedor Smolov (Krasnodar).

Slovakia Euro 2016 squad

Goalkeepers: Matus Kozacik (Viktoria Plzen), Jan Mucha (Slovan Bratislava), Jan Novota (Rapid Vienna). Defenders: Peter Pekarik (Hertha Berlin), Milan Skriniar (Sampdoria), Martin Skrtel (Liverpool), Norbert Gyomber (Roma), Jan Durica (Lokomotiv Moscow), Kornel Salata (Slovan Bratislava), Tomas Hubocan (Dynamo Moscow), Dusan Svento (Cologne). Midfielders: Viktor Pecovsky (Zilina), Robert Mak (PAOK Thessaloniki), Juraj Kucka (AC Milan), Patrik Hrosovsky (Viktoria Plzen), Jan Gregus (Jablonec), Marek Hamsik (Napoli), Ondrej Duda (Legia Warsaw), Miroslav Stoch (Bursaspor), Vladimir Weiss (Al Gharafa). Forwards: Michal Duris (Viktoria Plzen), Adam Nemec (Willem II), Stanislav Sestak (Ferencvaros).

Spain Euro 2016 squad

Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Porto), David de Gea (Man United), Sergio Rico (Sevilla) Defenders: Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Marc Bartra (all Barcelona), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Mikel San Jose (Athletic Bilbao), Hector Bellerin (Arsenal) Midfielders: Bruno (Villarreal), Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta (both Barcelona), Thiago (Bayern Munich), David Silva (Manchester City), Pedro, Cesc Fabregas (both Chelsea) Forwards: Aritz Aduriz (Athletic Bilbao), Nolito (Celta Vigo), Alvaro Morata (Juventus)

Sweden Euro 2016 squad

Goalkeepers: Andreas Isaksson (Kasimpasa), Robin Olsen (Copenhagen), Patrik Carlgren (AIK) Defenders: Ludwig Augustinsson (Copenhagen), Erik Johansson (Copenhagen), Pontus Jansson (Torino), Victor Lindelof (Benfica) Andreas Granqvist (Krasnodar), Mikael Lustig (Celtic), Martin Olsson (Norwich) Midfielders: Jimmy Durmaz (Olympiakos), Albin Ekdal (Hamburg), Oscar Hiljemark (Palermo), Sebastian Larsson (Sunderland), Pontus Wernbloom (CSKA Moscow), Erkan Zengin (Trabzonspor), Oscar Lewicki (Malmo), Emil Forsberg (Leipzig), Kim Kallstrom (Grasshoppers) Forwards: Marcus Berg (Panathinaikos), John Guidetti (Celta Vigo), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris St-Germain), Emir Kujovic (Norrkoping)

Switzerland Euro 2016 squad

Goalkeepers: Roman Burki (Borussia Dortmund), Marwin Hitz (Augsburg), Yann Sommer (Monchengladbach) Defenders: Johan Djourou (Hamburg), Nico Elvedi (Monchengladbach), Michael Lang (Basel), Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus), Francois Moubandje (Toulouse), Ricardo Rodríguez (Wolfsburg), Fabian Schar (Hoffenheim), Steve von Bergen (Young Boys) Midfielders: Valon Behrami (Watford), Blerim Dzemaili (Genoa), Gelson Fernandes (Rennes), Fabian Frei (Mainz), Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke City), Granit Xhaka (Monchengladbach), Denis Zakaria (Young Boys) Forwards: Eren Derdiyok (Kasımpasa), Admir Mehmedi (Leverkusen), Breel Embolo (Basel), Haris Seferovic (Frankfurt), Shani Tarashaj (Everton).

Turkey Euro 2016 squad

Goalkeepers: Volkan Babacan (Medipol Basaksehir), Onur Recep Kivrak (Trabzonspor), Harun Tekin (Bursaspor). Defenders: Gokhan Gonul (Fenerbahce), Ahmet Calik (Genclerbirligi), Sener Ozbayrakli (Fenerbahce), Hakan Balta (Galatasaray), Mehmet Topal (Fenerbahce), Semih Kaya (Galatasaray), Ismail Koybasi (Besiktas), Caner Erkin (Fenerbahce). Midfielders: Emre Mor (FC Nordsjaelland), Volkan Sen (Fenerbahce), Hakan Calhanoglu (Leverkusen), Nuri Sahin (Borussia Dortmund), Oguzhan Ozyakup (Besiktas), Ozan Tufan (Fenerbahce), Selcuk Inan (Galatasaray), Arda Turan (Barcelona), Olcay Sahan (Besiktas). Forwards: Burak Yilmaz (Beijing Guoan), Cenk Tosun (Besiktas), Yunus Malli (FSV Mainz 05).

Ukraine Euro 2016 squad

Goalkeepers: Andriy Pyatov (Shakhtar), Denys Boyko (Besiktas), Mykyta Shevchenko (Shakhtar) Defenders: Yevhen Khacheridi (Dynamo Kiev), Bohdan Butko (Shakhtar), Artem Fedetskyi (Dnipro), Oleksandr Karavaev (Shakhtar), Oleksandr Kucher (Shakhtar), Yaroslav Rakytskiy (Shakhtar), Vyacheslav Shevchuk (Shakhtar) Midfielders: Serhiy Rybalka (Dynamo Kiev), Denys Garmash (Dynamo Kiev), Serhiy Sydorchuk (Dynamo Kiev), Andriy Yarmolenko (Dynamo Kiev), Yevhen Konoplyanka (Sevilla), Ruslan Rotan (Dnipro), Taras Stepanenko (Shakhtar), Viktor Kovalenko (Shakhtar), Anatoliy Tumoschuk (Kairat), Oleksandr Zinchenko (UFA) Forwards: Roman Zozulya (Dnipro), Pylyp Budkivskyi (Shakhtar), Yevhen Seleznyov (Shakhtar)

Italy Euro 2016 squad

Italy final squad announcement has Jorginho (Napoli) and Riccardo Montolivo (AC Milan) out of the 23-man squad for Euro 2016, but Pelle (Southampton), Ogbonna (West Ham), and Darmian (Man Utd) are all included, in Conte's final big decision for Italy before he takes over at Chelsea.

Italy Euro 2016

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Federico Marchetti (Lazio), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris St-Germain)

Defenders: Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Angelo Ogbonna (West Ham)

Wingers: Federico Bernardeschi (Fiorentina), Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Matteo Darmian (Manchester United), Mattia de Sciglio (Milan), Stephan El Shaarawy (Roma)

Midfielders: Daniele de Rossi (Roma), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Emanuele Giaccherini (Bologna), Thiago Motta (Paris St-Germain), Marco Parolo (Lazio), Stefano Sturaro (Juventus)

Forwards: Eder (Inter), Ciro Immobile (Torino), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Graziano Pelle (Southampton), Simone Zaza (Juventus)

Roy Hodgson's England Squad

So Uncle Woy (Roy) has given us dear fans something to discuss in tonights pubs up and down the country. He has announced the England squad capable of bringing us home the Euro 2016 Trophy!

In what many have stated a 'bold young squad', there are

Gary Linekars Tweet

some raised eyebrows of the missing few and the inclusion of others. Rashford has been included in some ways similar to the inclusion of a 16 year old Walcott in the 2006 World Cup after no premiership appearances. Yet Rashford has been chosen, has scored and appeared in a few, but is this too early for him also? Can he carry the mantle of a striker for England with England's fans and in the shadow of Vardy and Kane?

they are going to be looking for shadows in this tournament

Other issues for me personally and quite a few others are those of Henderson, Sturridge and in particular Wilshere who I don't think has played a full game this season! Other concerns on a performance level are those of Stones and Barkley and of course Rooney who hasn't exactly lifted the Man Utd fans to ecstasy this season! Sturridge has got to be able to do 90 minutes for at least the remaining friendly against Portugal to ensure his match fitness for the tournament, anything less and he will be a bench warmer. The same can be said for Henderson and Wilshere. In their time both can be excellent stalwarts but without game time they are going to be looking for shadows in this tournament!

There are also surprise exclusions of Drinkwater who has had a stormer of a season, Townsend, despite being relegated his form in the last several matches has been MoM quality with goals and assists, and Noble who hasn't even been considered.

So it remains to be seen whether this is the team to beat the best in Europe and if Uncle Woy will have the last laugh as he walks through Heathrow Arrivals with a coy smile and a trophy!

England Squad:

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Fraser Forster (Southampton), Tom Heaton (Burnley).

Defenders: Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Everton), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur), Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool).

Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Ross Barkley (Everton), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), James Milner (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal).

Strikers: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United).

EURO 2016 - Group A Preview

It is nearly upon us, this Summer's biggest sporting event, the European Championships.

24 teams across 6 groups will vie to become European Champions.

France plays host for the third time, in what will be the 15th renewal of this great tournament. For the first time in the event's history we will see 24 teams compete, which is 8 more participants than we have seen in the last 20 years.

In these previews we will be looking at each sides' qualifying campaign, their respective top scorers in qualifying and who may well be their star performer at this summer's tournament.

Without further ado, let's start in the most obvious place of all.

Euro 2016 - Group A:

France

Qualifying record:

N/A

France are the host country and therefore qualifying was not necessary. Whilst everyone else spent the last year qualifying, France littered their fixtures list with International Friendlies, including home and away ties against teams from Qualifying Group I. This was a new initiative from UEFA to better prepare host nations. They would have won the group with 7 wins, 2 draws, 1 loss, bettering Portugal by 2 points.

Top Scorer:

N/A

Projected top performer:

Dmitri Payet - This could be a bold pick given that he is part of a squad that includes Blaise Matuidi and Paul Pogba in midfield plus attacking players such as Antoine Griezmann and Anthony Martial, but I believe the West Ham man could really take this tournament by storm if given the chance by coach, Didier Deschamps.

He is very capable in set-piece situations and should he score one of his incredible free-kicks in a vital situation he could be well get the nod as top performer.

It would be easy to pick Paul Pogba or even Antoine Grizemann, however the pair have only managed a combined 12 goals in 55 games for their country and although Payet only has 2 in 16, he showed big signs of improvement this year and that has come at a great time.

Expectations:

The hosts will be looking to win, no question. France enter every major tournament as one of the favourites, due to their constant conveyor belt of talented footballers (despite the weakness of the top domestic league) and this year is no different.

If they play to their full potential, there is no reason they can't win it all. They have a world-class goalkeeper in Hugo Lloris, a capable defence and a plethora of midfield and attacking options.

A mixture of wily veterans and young superstars provides a good balance and this team can definitely win their third European Championship.

Romania

Qualifying record:

5 wins, 5 draws

Top scorer:

Bogdan Stancu, Paul Papp, Constantin Budescu (tied with 2)

Projected top performer:

Ciprian Tătăruşanu - Romania qualified for the their first major tournament finals in eight years and did so undefeated. This was in no small part down to the team's ability to keep a clean sheet.

In 10 games, the side conceded just 2 goals and the man leading that defence is Fiorentina's goalkeeper, Tătăruşanu. If Romania are to enjoy in any way a sucessfull Euro 2016 campaign, they will need to continue to keep it tight at the back and for that to happen, Tătăruşanu will need to be at the top of his game.

If he can do that, he will earn plenty of plaudits along the way and possibly another big summer switch.

Expectations:

Expectations will be low, whilst the Romanian's kept it tight at the back during qualifying (they had the best defensive record), they were not exactly free-scoring. They scored just 11 goals to finish in 2nd place behind Northern Ireland who in contrast scored 18.

There are places up for grabs in the last-16 for the 4 best 3rd-placed teams and this to me looks like the only chance of Romania progressing.

Albania

Qualifying record:

4 wins, 2 draws, 2 losses

Top scorer:

Ermin Lanjani, Bekim Balaj, Armando Sadiku, Merkim Mavraj, Berat Djimsiti (tied with 1)

Projected top performer:

Elseid Hysaj - The right-back plies his trade in Serie A for 2015-16 runners-up, Napoli and he will be relishing the chance to represent his country on the biggest stage in his country's history.

Reports suggest the attacking full-back is attracting interest from top clubs such as La Liga side Atletico Madrid and Premier League side Chelsea, who after the tournament will be led by former Juventus and current Italy coach Antonio Conte.

He tracks back well and can put in a decent cross too (although his side is not blessed with strikers who can get on the end of it) so he will be an important player in both attack and defence.

If he is going to get that summer move I am sure he is dreaming of, good performances against France and Switzerland will thrust him further into the spotlight.

Expectations:

Despite qualifying for their first ever major tournament, expectations must be tempered. This is an inexperienced side at this level and with only a handful of players playing in top leagues, it is hard to see them achieving much in a tough group.

In addition to their inexperience, 3 of the 14 points they garnered in qualifying came courtesy of Serbia abandoning the home game against them, resulting in a 3-0 Albania win. This was due to the Serbian fans storming the field and attacking the Albanian players after a drone carried a pro-Albanian flag over the stadium.

Most importantly though, football-wise this Albania side will struggle to cope against France and Switzerland but if they can somehow pick up a result against Romania and even finish above them in the group they may well consider that an achievement, as they could progress to the last-16 thanks to the new rules.

Switzerland

Qualifying record:

7 wins & 3 losses

Top scorer:

Xherdan Shaqiri (4)

Projected top performer:

Xherdan Shaqiri - Whilst many eyes will be on Arsenal's latest signing, Granit Xhaka, I still think the Stoke City attacker is the focal point of this team.

Shaqiri scored 4 goals in qualifying, 1 more than strikers Josip Drmic and Haris Seferovic and in his last major tournament for his country he starred once again.

At the 2014 World Cup, Shaqiri was named man of the match in the Swiss' group games against both Ecuador and Honduras, scoring a hat-trick against the latter in their third and final group match, sealing qualification to the next round. They lost that game to Argentina in extra time, when Angel Di Maria broke fans' hearts in the 118th minute, but it was a valiant effort by Shaqiri and co.

Of the current squad, Shaqiri leads the way in terms of goals with 17 in 52 games, 7 more than striker Eren Derdiyok who has only managed a modest 10 in 51 games. Whilst Xhaka may be the heartbeat of the team these days, it is Shaqiri's attacking flair that could carry Switzerland through to the latter stages, with the absence of a star striker.

Expectations:

Switzerland will expect to progress from Group A and will look to battle out with France for top spot.

They are also very much capable of beating most teams in this year's competition on their day and depending on their draw in the last-16, I don't see why they cannot go far in this competition. The quarter-finals looks a realistic target and I can imagine they have their eyes on that stage and beyond.

A steady side with two starlets in Xhaka and Shaqiri, there is definitely reason for optimism this summer in the Swiss camp and at the very least they should progress from the group stage for the first time in tournament history.

That concludes part 1 of this 6-part series, be sure to keep an eye out for parts 2-6 in the coming days!

Fabian Delph ruled out of Euro 2016

England manager Roy Hodgson has confirmed Fabian Delph will not be going to Euro 2016 this summer after confirming he will not play any part in the Three Lions warm-up game v Australia on Friday at Sunderland.

The Manchester City midfielder will miss tomorrow's game and the Euros with a groin strain the Three Lions boss confirmed at a press conference on Thursday evening.

Also speaking ahead of the Three Lions game v Australia he confirmed that Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has missed the last 2 days training due to a calf strain.

Hodgson also confirmed that Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford will play a "serious part" against the Socceroos.

"It's pretty obvious that [Marcus] Rashford is going to play a serious part in the game." Hodgson explained.

"I'm more than content that he (Rashford) will handle that situation." Hodgson added.

It looks as though Rashford will make his debut from the start with Sturridge set to miss the game.

Hodgson also confirmed that Wayne Rooney would not start but Fraser Forster would against Australia.