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Shaqiri thinks England are favourites for tournament


Goal hero Chris Smalling. Photo: PA

Goal hero Chris Smalling. Photo: PA

Goal hero Chris Smalling. Photo: PA

England's youthful squad makes them one of the favourites to win their first European Championship, Stoke City midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri has said.

England coach Roy Hodgson will take a relatively young squad to the tournament in France, with defender John Stones, midfielders Ross Barkley, Eric Dier, Raheem Sterling and Dele Alli, and strikers Marcus Rashford and Harry Kane all under the age of 23.

"For me England are one of my favourites for the title at the Championship because they have a new, young and exciting generation of players who are very good," Shaqiri said, who will be lining out for Switzerland in Group A. "They are a very talented group and I really think they can have a really good tournament, and even go on to win the title."


England beat 10-man Portugal 1-0 in their final Euro 2016 warm-up game at Wembley on Thursday, following wins over Australia and Turkey. They open their Group B campaign against Russia on June 11. Wales and Slovakia are the other teams in the group.

Hodgson has defended his strategy of deploying strikers Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane in wide areas during the Portugal game.

Defender Chris Smalling headed in the only goal with five minutes left and Hodgson declared himself satisfied with England's momentum ahead of the Euros in France despite being criticised for his team's torpid attacking display.

England played with Vardy and Kane up top and skipper Wayne Rooney in the number 10 role at the tip of a midfield diamond, but both front men found themselves on the flanks too often. "If you play with them both through the middle with (Wayne) Rooney central as well you can't defend the wide areas," Hodgson said.

"There were some moments where you might be right and Kane and Vardy were a little too wide but their job is to split and come together at the right times."