CONNOR Wickham says England must welcome their “favourites” tag going into the European Under-21 Championship finals in Israel this week.
The big Sunderland striker is part of a record-breaking young Three Lions side that goes into the finals in formidable form.
And he says, despite the presence of Spain, Germany, Holland and Italy, that England deserve to be the team everyone is looking to.
“I think we’ve got one of the best teams so we can go there as strong favourites,” said the Black Cats forward, confidently.
“It’s no coincidence we’ve won our last nine matches.
“We haven’t got a weak spot, so we’ll be really hard to beat.
“I think we’ve dominated every game we’ve played.
“So we can go into this tournament, hold our heads up and be proud of what we’ve done. It’s the same group of players every time we meet up and we know each other inside out.
“And now we’re all focused on the same thing.”
Wickham says the side’s inspiration is manager Stuart Pearce.
And even though the Sunderland striker has shared a dressing room with new Black Cats’ head coach Paolo Di Canio, he says Pearce is up there with the very best in his commitment to the cause.
“I don’t think I’ve met a more passionate man in my career,” said the 20-year-old. You see it in the changing room every time a game comes around.
“All the boys feed aoff the energy he gives out.”
England begin their group fixtures against Italy on Wednesday before tackling Norway on Saturday and hosts Israel next Tuesday.
H Henderson’s hopes for U21s’ finals – page 21