Declan Rice – England Over Ireland

Ireland under 16, Ireland under 17, Ireland under 19, Ireland under 21 and Ireland senior team have all selected and nurtured midfielder Declan Rice over the years.

The West Ham midfielder has now decided that his international future lies away from the Arriva and with those at Wembley.

The promising West Ham man has chosen birth place over grandparent eligibility, he has chosen England over Ireland.

Declan-Rice

Born in London, Rice became eligible for ROI as his grandparents were from Cork.

After receiving 3 full caps (all in friendly matches) under Martin O’Neill the youngster asked to be omitted from a squad to play Wales back in August 2018.

All-in-all Rice has pulled on the shirt of the boys in green on 23 occasions.

In the last few days he has released a statement that has confirmed the decision that could define his footballing future.

“I have equal respect for both England and Ireland and therefore the national team I choose to represent is not a clear-cut, simple selection.”

“Ultimately, it is a personal decision that I have made with my heart and my head, based on what I believe is best for my future.”

It is a big risk but one that could be full of reward should he nail down a place in the three lions’ squad. You’d have to suggest that England’s recent success at various age levels will have played a huge part in Declan’s decision. Perhaps a group stage elimination at the recent World Cup would have nullified any thoughts of a switch?

Whilst there has been the odd Irishman make noises of discontent – it is worth noting that Ireland, like many other nations have benefited from similar situations.

Look back to the late 90’s and you’ll see the Englishmen of Cascarino, Townsend and Aldridge.

The mid 2000’s would find the likes of McAteer, Holland, Kinsella and Clinton Morrison switch allegiance.

Perhaps the Scots could consider themselves equally hard done by with the losses of James McCarthy and Aiden McGeady to their near neighbours in recent years?

Kevin Kilbane who is 3rd on the list for all-time record caps was born in Preston and their most recent squad features a massive 9 non-Irishmen.

It’s a sore one for those across the Irish sea to take, as they have missed out on a player with a lot of potential but like it or not Rice has not broken any rules.

This doesn’t make it right, but Ireland will have to move on quickly and focus on the upcoming Euro qualifiers after suffering relegation in inaugural Nations League competition.

Declan Rice image sourced from; www.thetimes.co.uk

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England U20s – What are they up to now?

18 months on from their famous World Cup victory in South Korea the England under 20 squad members are older, wiser and should be in a better position to influence their careers as well as the aid the ambitions of the clubs to which they are contracted.

A 1-0 victory over Venezuela in the final not only gave them memories for the rest of their lives, but probably spurred their more senior counterparts to an unexpected run to the Semi Finals in Russia.

England are gaining admirers across Europe in relation to their current crop of home grown talent.

Sancho is doing it at Dortmund and Hudson-Odoi is being tracked by Bayern and its certain that many more will be subject to bids from abroad should these lads no be able to make their mark at home.

England-Under-20s.jpg

The question is – what are the members of the winning squad up to are these days? We’ve put together an update below…

GK’s

Freddie Woodman

The Newcastle keeper is back up north. After a successful spell with Kilmarnock he is back in the Ladbrokes Premiership with Aberdeen. A promising player in a position that England won’t have trouble with for the next few years. Recipient of the Golden Glove in Korea.

Dean Henderson

Manchester United’s next hot prospect, just a question of will he ever grace the Old Trafford pitch as a red? Currently with Sheffield United and a proper crown favourite.

A loan spell with Shrewsbury saw him help them into the League One Play Off final last season and his early penalty save gave them hope before Rotherham proved too strong.

Reported to be being tracked by some of Europe’s superpowers given his fine performances.

Luke Southwood

The Reading U23 keeper who is yet to make an appearance for the Royals, is currently in the Conference Premier with Eastleigh, a short term loan arrangement.

Defenders

Jonjoe Kenny

The promising right back is one of a number of Everton players in this squad. He has broken into the first team squad and is a definite long term successor to Seamus Coleman. A plus point in the current slump for the side.

Callum Connolly

Currently with struggling Bolton in the Championship but experiences like his current one can be good for a young player. He will be back at Goodison in the summer but most likely to be put out on loan again soon after.

Fikayo Tomori

The Canadian born defender is one of what seems like 100’s out on loan from Chelsea, He is working under the guidance of Blue’s legend Frank Lampard as Derby push for promotion from the Championship. Like many others he will more than likely have to move away from Stamford Bridge to get game time.

Jake Clarke-Slater

Like Tomori a Chelsea “loanee”. Was with Sunderland at the back end of their fatefulNetflix documented campaign although he kept himself out of the limelight. He was then shipped to partner club Vitesse in the Eredivisie for this campaign and made over 20 appearances so far.

Ezri Konsa

Came to prominence at Charlton making over 70 appearances at the heart of the defence. He moved from the Valley to Brentford for a reported £2.5m last summer and has been a virtual ever present for the Bees. A move to a bigger club looks a certainty in the coming years.

Kyle Walker-Peters

The Spurs full back is a squad player at present with just a few mins under his belt. He has not been sent on loan which shows that he is required around Wembley. At a club that doesn’t look like making many signings in the coming windows so he has a chance to make his mark.

Dael Fry

The big 6’4 local lad at Middlesbrough has been used by Tony Pulis this season and will continue to be a bit part player in the coming months. A winner with England at Under 17, 20 and 21 level, impressive.

Midfielders

Lewis Cook

The skipper who hoisted the trophy aloft. He was transferred from Leeds to Bournemouth back in 2016 and is looking like a shrewd investment. His season was cut short pre-Christmas with a nasty cruciate injury, he has a long journey back.

Joshua Onomah

The Spurs man has represented England at a staggering 6 age levels. He has played over 30 games for the North London club and appears to have a future at the new White Hart Lane.Currently at Sheff Wed and under Steve Bruce he could flourish in the coming months.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

In the Arsenal squad as Emery looks to blood the youth players in various competitions. He recently received social media criticism for his performance at Huddersfield although he was played out of position. Also scored away at Anfield, although sadly it was in a heavy defeat.

Kieran Dowell

Blue through and through, a ball boy at Goodison and idolised Mikel Arteta whilst he was in the academy. Brought in by promotion-chasing Sheffield United to aid their run in towards the Premier League.

A success out at Nottingham Forest last season and looks to be a promising midfielder, needs to be utilised by Everton upon his return.

Sheyi Ojo

The winger seems to have been around for a long time with his multiple loans into the lower leagues.

Helped the currently hopeless Fulham to promotion last season. Although he could end up disappearing into the wilderness.

Ovie Ejaria

Loaned to Rangers to work under former academy coach Gerrard, but deal was cut short suddenly in December with claim he couldn’t settle. Others believe different and an attitude problem may be the true cause.

Like parent club teammate Ojo could slip away, chances at Anfield will be slim to none you’d imagine.

Forwards

Adam Armstrong

After several loans away from Newcastle, Armstrong finally has a permanent home at Blackburn Rovers. He helped them to promotion back to the Championship last season and has continued to cause defences headaches at the higher level. A good footballer.

Dominic Solanke

The Golden Ball winner of the tournament.

After 0 PL appearances for Liverpool this season Solanke signed for Bournemouth early in the January window for a heavy £19m fee, good club to be at but he could be in danger of becoming a wasted talent should he not settle somewhere soon.

Ademola Lookman

Lookman had recently signed for Everton prior to the World Cup, making a handful of appearances before the summer. Post tournament the toffees replaced Koeman with Allardyce who sanctioned a loan to RB Leipzig for Lookman. Back on Merseyside and he’s finding opportunities limited with under-fire Silva despite loud calls from the stands for his inclusion.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin

Figures a lot more at Goodison than Lookman, 20+ appearances this season albeit mainly from the bench. He has an eye for a goal and could turn into a decent top division forward if given the opportunity.

Harrison Chapman

England-World-Cup-Win

Like Armstrong he was sent of various loans from the North East, this time from Middlesbrough. Same home as his international teammate though having signed on at Ewood for the next 2.5yrs.

It’s a crucial time for the developing talent in England and having had success on the International stage, it is key that the feel good factor is capitalised on.

Some of these players have found chances limited in favour of foreign imports or more experienced heads.

Quite simply these young footballers need more faith placed in them, some of these clubs have ready-made talent at their disposal yet are still choosing to spend millions and looking elsewhere.

England cannot miss this opportunity.

England U20 squad image sourced from; www.premierleague.com
England U20 World Cup win image sourced from; www.en.aus.com

Premier League – European Nights Proving too much?

It feels like it’s been a lot longer than 4 years since Chelsea lifted the Europa League, an English sides’ last triumph in any European competition. Whilst Man Utd have a reasonable opportunity to win the same competition this season, not many could have predicted such a sharp decline in the performance of the teams from the richest league in the world under the floodlights across the continent.

Allow me to explain…

Since the 1999-2000 season there have been 64 finalists spread over The Champions League & Europa League, the top representatives by country of origin: –

  • Spain – 23
  • Portugal – 7
  • England – 14
  • Italy – 6
  • Germany – 8

Are we accepting that a little over 20% of finalists being from the “money machine” that is the Barclays Premier league is acceptable?

Of the 14 English clubs who have made it to the various finals, only 4 have prevailed, Sevilla alone have won on 5 occasions and they would not usually be mentioned in the same breath.

It is also worth remembering that even the much maligned Scottish Premiership has provided 2 finalists within the same period (Celtic 2003 & Rangers 2008).

Tottenham-vs-Gent-Image

The afore mentioned Man Utd could break the recent trend this season and lift the Europa League, however loses to Feyenoord and Fenerbache accompanied by drab draws against FC Rostov and Anderlecht would hardly see them as worthy winners.

In fact, this season has seen English Premier League sides (Spurs & Man Utd) face opposition from Belgian First Division A (KAA Gent & Anderlecht) over four legs and only produce a solitary England win…A 2-1 extra time win.

Other such failings in recent seasons have included:-

  • FA Cup winners Wigan prop up their Europa League group
  • Hull City defeated by Lokeren in the qualifying rounds
  • Everton take 5 from Dynamo Kiev
  • Southampton 1-2 Midtylland
  • Liverpool losing out to Basel in 2014-15
  • Man Utd slipping to 3rd in a group of Wolfburg, PSV & CSKA
  • And who can ignore Arsenal’s recent meetings with Bayern…

Football is football and that’s why we love the game and yes the odd surprise defeat can occur, however these are over 2 legs, or in group stages containing multiple games, EPL sides should NOT be crashing out under these circumstances.

Are Stoke better than Schalke, could Bournemouth batter Bordeaux or would we see Everton ease past Espanyol?

I think the honest answer has to be a resounding no to all of the above.

The self-proclaimed “best league in the world” is being outshone by sides from divisions on which they look down on as being not worthy of sharing their pitches.

The EPL and its member clubs need to raise the bar to a whole new level to re-assert itself as a provider of dominant club sides when competing in European competitions or risk falling further behind.

Champions-League-Group-Stage

Tottenham vs Gent image sourced from; www.fourfourtwo.com
Champion’s League group stage image sourced from; www.goal.com

Wayne Rooney – Time for Fan Reflection

Poor old Wayne Rooney, he appears to be taking the brunt of everyone’s frustrations and anger at the moment:-

  • Man Utd’s stuttering start to the season = Wayne Rooney
  • Paul Pogba’s poor form = Wayne Rooney
  • England failing at the Euros = Wayne Rooney
  • Current England failings = Wayne Rooney
  • Global Warming = Wayne Rooney

Obviously we kid with the last one but we’re sure “Wazza” wouldn’t be surprised to be questioned about it in an upcoming press conference if they needed someone to blame.

The fact of the matter is simple…Wayne Rooney is currently out of form and quite rightly has been taken out of the starting 11 by responsible managers for club and country. This is something which can and does happen to most players throughout their careers, but most other footballers do not have the numbers to back up their careers like the England captain.

Just have a look at his record:-

Club Season Apps Goals
Everton 2002 – 03 37 8
  2003 – 04 40 9
Man Utd 2004 – 05 43 17
  2005 – 06 48 19
  2006 -07 55 23
  2007 – 08 43 18
  2008 – 09 49 20
  2009 – 10 44 34
  2010 – 11 40 16
  2011 – 12 43 34
  2012 – 13 37 16
  2013 – 14 40 19
  2014 – 15 37 14
  2015 – 16 41 15
England 2003 – Present 118 53
Total 715 315

14 trophies lifted and multiple “Player of the Year” awards to also add to his medal collection.

Rooney doesn’t complete the team sheet at Old Trafford or Wembley, the Manager does. Not just one manager either. A total of 11 of managers (4 at club level, with Moyes x 2 and 7 at International) have been quick enough to write his name down and hand it to the officials on hundreds of occasions. Rooney goes out on the pitch as instructed to, just as he has sat on the bench in recent weeks like the model pro he has matured into.

He is about to turn 31 but he has plenty left to offer both on and off the pitch, yes there is work to do on his part. A young man who has been in the spotlight ever since bending a beauty past David Seaman way back in 2002 deserves to be cut a bit of slack.

A man who has won everything at club level as well as becoming  England’s most capped outfield player and top goal-scorer, Wayne Rooney is a player that England and Man Utd fans may never see again in their lifetimes.

It’s time to support the man who you have depended on for so many years, acknowledging just how good he has been along the way.

wayne-rooney-image

Wayne Rooney image sourced from; www.dailyexpress.co.uk

Scotland 2018 – This Time?

Less than 2 months after Portugal were crowned Euro 2016 champions it’s already time to start a new qualifying campaign!

Given the excitement of having 4 home nations make it to France certainly put things into perspective for the Scots who were sitting at home, enviously watching everyone else having the time of their lives across the channel.

The only bright spark in their gloomy summer was Iceland shocking a continent and sending the Auld Enemy home a lot earlier than many had predicted.

The rest of the nearest and dearest Wales, Northern Ireland and ROI are now on a new level, they have tournament experience and are nations carrying a different expectation altogether.

The SFA have come up with the slogan of “THIS TIME.” for Russia 2018 qualifying group F, so is it to be long haul flights to Moscow or further glorious failure?

Scotland-This-Time

Scotland have been drawn with Malta, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia and England. Even the staunchest supporter sat in the Hampden Park stands will concede that Sam Allardyce’s men will win the group and more than likely, at a canter. We all know where England’s failings lie and it’s not at this stage, in fact they may even be glad of having what should be 2 tough games. This is more than they have had in previous years in the run up to a tournament. A table topping England would leave the Scots fighting for the play off place in the table.

As much as both nations will be looking forward to these games in the calendar this is not where Scotland’s progress will be decided. The trips to Slovenia and Slovakia hold the key… They must not be repeats of Georgia 2007 or 2015!

The SFA have completed the 1st task in ensuring ordering of the fixtures reads well. Playing Malta and Lithuania back-to-back on two occasions gives good opportunity for 6 points at key times in the group. The England games fall in the middle and regardless of the results it should not damage any optimism or derail form, this leaves the BIG finish…

Slovakia at Hampden on 5th October 2017 and Slovenia away a few days later. These are the much heralded 6 pointers, although we think 4 would do and avoiding defeat in either is more than likely going to be a must.

30 points on offer over the next 13 months and we feel a total of 20 needs to be the aim. This is allowing for defeats to England and Slovakia along what we’re sure will be a bumpy road.

Can it be done with what is available we hear you ask? Well let’s throw out a few positives to add to the hope that is always present at the beginning:-

  • Scotland have a new star in Oliver Burke, a recent £13m transfer to RB Leipzig and comparisons to Bale will do for starters
  • Matt Ritchie has been a find, the Newcastle winger has taken to international football like a duck to water, he’ll be a key man
  • Leigh Griffiths is one of the deadliest strikers in Europe, we don’t care what anyone says he should be regarded higher than he currently is
  • They are blessed at left back. Robertson and Tierney = enough said
  • The potential XI below leaves out the likes of Wallace, Maloney, McArthur, McCormack and Rhodes

One major worry for those world -famous passionate fans is at centre half. Berra, Martin, Greer and Hanley can play well but can also provide heart palpitations from Dundee to Dumfries! Perhaps a “we’ll score 1 more than you” attitude may have to be adopted.

The potential Scotland starting XI with everyone fit and suspension free looks like a decent side to us;

Scotland-Starting-11

Let’s also note that wee Gordon needs to be fair with his team selection, just because you have inks to the Old Firm shouldn’t guarantee you a starting place. ALAN HUTTON we’re talking about you!

Difficult decisions are part of his job and this time out he needs to be firmer. Don’t attempt to squeeze Naismith in, if Fletcher isn’t scoring for Sheff Wed then don’t start him or McKay is playing mid-table SPL football then leave him out of the squad.

So let the touch paper be lit in Ta’Qali on Sunday evening and see what Strachan and his troops can deliver this time around.

Qualification gives hero status’ whereas failure leaves the SFA with no option but to begin a search for a new management team.

With good selections, belief and a bit of luck on their side it could very well be all aboard for Russia.

World Cup Finals 2018? Let’s hope so, The Tartan Army deserve a European adventure.

Scotland This Time Image Sourced from SFA Twitter; https://twitter.com/ScottishFA
Scotland Starting 11 Image Sourced from LineUp11 App

England Manager – The FA have chosen

Precisely 25 days since Roy Hodgson sat in a post match press conference telling all of Europe that his time was up as manager of the England team, they have found his successor.

Just over 3 weeks since FA CEO Martin Glenn told everyone “we’re going to harness opinion and wisdom from the wider part of the game, it’s really important that we get this right. It’s really that we get England into a situation where we can build on the strength that we’ve got. I think we’ve got a lot of strength in this squad and taking it forward with the view to the World Cup in Russia. It’s important that we make the right decisions. So we will be canvassing opinions from former managers, current managers, clubs and players to make sure we get wisdom on to this area” to name their man.

It taken less than a month of “looking abroad”, “looking for the best person for the job” and “not ruling out a foreign manager.” To get as far as Sunderland…and appoint Sam Allardyce.

Mr Glenn himself has declared that he is “not a football expert” and whilst that is acceptable he is clearly attempting to rid himself of full responsibility if this goes wrong.

Sam-Allardyce-Image

Now it’s is obviously difficult to predict just how Big Sam will fare in the Wembley hot seat but it is at this stage easy to cast our opinion.

England have settled for what was available at the level they are currently operating on and off the pitch, mediocrity!

Having a look at the positives:-

  • Yes, England will be a more organised unit
  • Yes, England will be harder to beat
  • Yes, he may actually have the bravery to drop under performers not matter which club they play for
  • Yes, he may pick players that suit him and not sponsors or reputations (James Tomkins anyone?)
  • Yes, you would imagine “yes” is not a word he will utter to the top brass at the FA’s every request

Surely though…these are the basics of football management?

Is he even qualified for the job of National Manger?

  • No major trophy win
  • No trophy win since 97-98 (3rd division title)
  • A mere 33.6 PL win %
  • A total of 5 games managed against European opposition (1 win)

England’s failing have been in the cup competitions, they qualify relatively unchallenged from the seeded groups pre any major tournament. You just have to look at the 100% record pre France.

Taking a look at Bolton, Newcastle, Blackburn and West Ham under Allardyce’s command in the last 10 years hardly provides optimism.

Other than 2 League Cup Semi Final appearances where his sides have conceded a bucket load, he is a 3rd round exit specialist, bear in mind that most of these clubs would have entered at this stage and you have a manager who struggles to navigate through knockout football.

Club

Season League Cup FA Cup

Bolton

2006-07 3rd Round

4th Round

Newcastle United

2007-08 3rd Round

3rd Round

Blackburn Rovers

2008-09

N/A

5th Round

2009-10

Semi Final

3rd Round

SF – Conceded 7 to Villa over 2 legs

2010-11

3rd Round

N/A

West Ham

2011-12 1st Round

3rd Round

2012-13

3rd Round

3rd Round

2013-14

Semi Final

3rd Round

SF -Conceded 9 to City over 2 legs

2014-15

3rd Round

5th Round

Sunderland

2015-16

3rd Round

3rd Round

Manchester-City-Semi-Final-Image

Sam Allardyce it has to be said, is a fire fighter and perhaps that is just what the FA need to extinguish the flames created by a group of over-paid, under-performing multi-millionaires at Euro 2016.

There will be a good indication of his credentials very early on in his reign. England are arguably in their toughest qualifying group for a number of years with Slovakia, Slovenian and Auld Enemy Scotland to contend with.

However much the majority of the media dress this up as a fantastic appointment i.e. “how it’s just what England need” and with the  backing from the likes of Sir Alex and Jose etc etc. But let’s be honest…

IT’S ONLY SAM ALLARDYCE!

Sam Allardyce image sourced from; www.thetelegraph.co.uk
Manchester City Club Semi Final image sourced from www.thetelegraph.co.uk

Euro 2016 – The Last 16 Round Up

Euro-16-Header-Image

The knockout rounds have begun, no more teams tactically playing for 3rd place leaving themselves with a hope of staying in France for a few days longer.

It’s best we start off by saying…Thank goodness for Sunday and Monday. The 6 teams that played on Saturday provided us with a poor spectacle for the latter stages of a major international tournament.

Poland v Switzerland opened proceedings in St Etienne and produced 2 talking points. An outrageous overhead kick from Stoke’s Shaqiri and a woeful penalty in the shootout from Arsenal’s new £30Mil man Granit Xhaka. Poland progress and that’s without the prolific Lewandowski finding the net so far.

Moving to the highly anticipated “Battle of Britain.” It very much disappointed as Wales and Northern Ireland produced a cagey affair. It was settled after a Bale cross delivered into the dreaded corridor of uncertainty and was touched past his own keeper by the unfortunate McAuley, the challenge had to be made with Robson-Kanu awaiting a tap in.

To finish the day, a terrible match produced an extra time win for Ronaldo and co. Quaresma’s nod over the line was the game’s 1st on target attempt in the 117th minute and we were all relieved to be able to turn off in time for the Joshua fight! Portugal are in the quarters having yet to win a game in normal time.

Sunday needed to raise our spirits and it did just that…

As expected a spirited ROI gave hosts France a scare with a 2nd minute penalty from man-of-the-moment Robbie Brady. Then Antione Griezmann decide to silence his critics by turning up to the party, a fantastic 2nd half display saw him terrorise the Irish backline and score twice completing a 2-1 comeback win.

Fearfully for the remaining sides, Germany and Belgium destroyed their opposition to comfortably progress. 3-0 and 4-0 wins respectively and it could have been a lot more for either, do not be surprised if these two contest the final on 10th July.

Monday saw us reach the conclusion of the round and it produced the biggest shock the competition has EVER seen, Iceland 2-1 England!

An early Rooney penalty should have settled any lingering nerves for the favourites but within seconds it was 1-1 and minutes the turnaround was complete. Joe Hart should have kept out a Sigthorsson effort but just like Bale’s free kick, his left hand wasn’t strong enough.

Out-battled and out-thought seems a fair way to sum up a woeful night for the English with Hodgson resigning immediately after the defeat.

Euro-16-Iceland

In the earlier game Italy produced and stellar “Italian” performance, occasionally threatening going forward and unbeatable at the back. Just like the Belgium game it was wrapped up with a late Pelle volley for a 2-0 scoreline. A mouth-watering Quarter Final with Germany awaits for what was supposed to be their worst side for 50 years.

The Quarter Finals start on Thursday and with every team just 2 games from the showpiece final it should be an exciting watch.

Some of the usual suspects will know what to expect in terms of pressure however the appearance of Iceland, Poland and Wales provides a possible twist for sides that in effect have nothing to lose.

Have we seen the last twist of Euro 2016? Possibly not.

Euro 2016 image sourced from; www.scmp.com
Iceland image sourced from; www.indianexpress.com


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Euro 2016 – Who’s All Going?

This week has seen both highs and lows for France.

The race to qualify for Europe’s premier competition next summer has been rightly overshadowed by the terrible acts of terrorism that we have witnessed.

Back to the beautiful game however as we now have a completed line up for Euro 2016.

Euro-16-Teams-Confirmed

As usual the pot seedings are questionable. I’m not sure how qualifying via the play offs means you are 2 pots higher than teams who topped the group but we are all aware that Uefa & Fifa aren’t really sure what they are doing!

But what a tournament it is shaping up to be with so many questions, new nations involved, great support for sure and perhaps most importantly the promise of a great summer of footy.

Let’s take a look at a few who may surprise or disappoint in the competition:-

Winners – Germany

Who can see past the current World Champions? They topped one of the most difficult qualifying groups it also has to be said.

With the talent at their disposal and confidence gained from Brazil 14 the “always there or thereabout” Germans will be a difficult obstacle to overcome.

Dark Horses – England

A controversial choice perhaps but I seriously believe the serial disappointers that are England have serious credentials this time around.

A 100% qualifying round and a new youthful line up could provide them with a fearless element that may surprise.

The usual problem of facing a decent side at some point will occur but the Three Lions may just have enough in the locker this time.

1st Plane Home – Republic Of Ireland

Yep, sorry it’s a home nation.

The Irish have done well to qualify but the Bosnians didn’t provide as stern a test as we had all expected.

With a pot seeding of 4 a tough group stage is inevitable and they just don’t have enough quality to compete across the channel.

Surprise Package – Austria

Came through a group containing Russia and Zlatan’s Sweden unbeaten, with 9 wins from 10, scoring 22 and conceding just 5.

Only their 2nd time at the championships and with stars such as David Alaba they can impress a few who may not be aware of them.

austria-euro-2016-football-team

This is pre the official draw which will take place on December 12th it must be said.

All in all some big nations, big players and big ego’s will be landing in early July and are sure to impress.

Difficult not to start getting a little excited unless you are Scottish or Dutch!

Let’s all hope everything goes without a hitch in a country which has clearly been targeted and roll on Euro 2016.

Euro-2016-france-trophy

Euro 2016 Pot Image Sourced From; http://www.redcafe.net
Austria Team Image Sourced From; http://sportinglife.aol.co.uk
Euro 2016 Trophy Image Sourced From; http://footballtripper.com