Top five England Under-21 stars to watch

Manchester United, Stoke City, Sunderland, Liverpool and Tottenham players feature.

England begin their quest to win the Under-21 European Championship tomorrow night and here are five players to watch.

England go into the tournament with a good group of players but behind the likes of Germany, Holland and Spain in the betting markets.

The Three Lions have several players who can have very big tournaments, which will have knock on effects for them when they return to their clubs ahead of the new domestic season.

Here are the top five players to watch.

Jack Butland

Butland is the current number one for the side and he’s under pressure to justify his Premier League move to Stoke City last season and show why the club should be confident moving Asmir Begovic on.

Butland is a very competent goalkeeper when it comes to all forms of his trade. England should expect him to be dominant in the air, good on the ground, a great shot stopper and vocal in terms of commanding his back four.

Steven Caulker

Caulker has a very good season with Tottenham Hotspur and this is his big chance to work his way into the starting line up at Tottenham for next season.

He played in 18 Premier League games showing his consistency over a long period and his height, pace and strength make him a good selection for England in terms of the back four.

He’s also competent on the ball which is important for when England look to play the ball out and distribute from the back.

Jonjo Shelvey

No player has a bigger point to prove at the moment than Liverpool’s Jonjo Shelvey.

He has nine caps and three goals, with the ability to completely dominate opposition midfields, run the pace of the game and pull all of the strings in the middle of the pitch.

He lost his Liverpool place towards the end of last season and will be looking to use this event to win it back.

Wilfried Zaha

Zaha was instrumental in firing Crystal Palace into the Premier League with the goals which guaranteed them a Championship play-off final place.

The winger is looking ahead to his high profile career at Manchester United but he has to retain his focus for this tournament. Zaha can be very destructive from wide areas and he will be a target in opposition team talks.

Connor Wickham

More of an aggressive and physical forward as opposed to the more skilful and subtle Zaha.

Wickham spent the last chunk of last season on loan at Sheffield Wednesday which allowed him to get some form, confidence and match fitness under his belt ahead of this tournament.

He’ll be wanting to prove to everyone in England, and at his parent club Sunderland, that he’s got what it takes to cut it at the top level.

Who do you think will star for England?

image: © Tom Brogan

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