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Steph Houghton's 10 stars to watch at the European Championships

  /  autty

The European Championships give talented players the opportunity to shine on the big stage, and there are high expectations for a number of stars heading into Euro 2020 this summer.

In England, there are hopes that the likes of Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Mason Mount can steal the show like Paul Gascoigne in 1996, but who else could light up the tournament?

Sportsmail's new columnist Steph Houghton — who will head to the Olympics with Team GB later this summer — names 10 players she is looking forward to watching over the coming weeks.

Tomas Soucek (Czech Republic)

The Czechs need their big players who have had good seasons to step up — and Soucek certainly had a good season.

The West Ham midfielder is a bit like Ruben Dias at Manchester City — a massive threat at set pieces.

Set pieces are often the key to winning or losing at major tournaments. I’m sure teams will be trying to figure out how to stop him.

Ruben Dias (Portugal)

He’s been immense for Manchester City. A real leader, whose communication and the way he leads the back line make him stand out.

When you think about Portugal you think about Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo but when you have someone at the back with that presence who can organise the team, it allows the others to concentrate on scoring.

I feel he can have an unbelievable tournament. We have to walk past the men’s pitch to get to ours and we watch them whenever we can. Even if it’s only for two minutes you’re quickly aware of his presence.

Kylian Mbappe (France)

Clearly, one of the best in the world.

His pace is unbelievable and with Karim Benzema back in the fold he is only going to get better — as it should take the pressure off and free him up a little.

As a defender you like to have everything in front of you. You don’t want to worry about anything behind. He will give defenders nightmares because of that pace and his ability in front of goal.

Kai Havertz (Germany)

Over the last five to 10 games for Chelsea he’s found his rhythm and has adapted to the English game.

He shines in the big matches — as we know! The way Germany play may suit his style even more. They didn’t have the best results in qualifying and they will have a point to prove.

Havertz can play as a false nine, in midfield or off the wings. His versatility will come in handy.

John McGinn (Scotland)

I had to put in a Scotland player or else I’d have been told off by the Scottish girls in the Team GB squad.

I love watching him play for Villa, though. As the season wore on he got better and better.

He can find a pass, score important goals for club and country and I think he’s growing in confidence. He’s one of Scotland’s best players and I think he can take hold of his team and drag them forwards.

Alexander Isak (Sweden)

I’ve seen him for Real Sociedad a few times and he’s been really impressive.

There’s a lot of hype in Sweden about him — he’s being compared to Zlatan Ibrahimovic!

He likes to play off the shoulder or as a target man. Isak’s a bit of an unknown but I’ve got a feeling he’ll produce at the Euros.

Mason Mount (England)

With the way England play, his ability on the ball will be key. But it’s not only what he can do with the ball at his feet, his ability to press and win it back makes him a massive player.

That ability to pick a pass is priceless, as we saw in the Champions League final. With Harry Kane, Phil Foden and Marcus Rashford making runs he’ll have a big role to play.

I can see teams being cagey and trying to make it hard for England but he has the ability to unlock a defence.

Robert Lewandowski (Poland)

He's just a machine, isn’t he?

Constantly breaking records and it seems like he’s getting better as he gets older.

Big players perform on big stages and this is another opportunity for him to show everyone just how good he is. He’s going to be Poland's big star at the tournament.

David Brooks (Wales)

David is in because I used to train with him at City! We trained with the Under 18 boys — Phil (Foden), Tosin Adarabioyo, Brooksy. He was really unfortunate with his injuries.

We also played against him when England played Sheffield United Under 18s. The Welsh players love wearing the shirt and always prove hard to beat.

As a midfielder, he loves the ball at his feet and can create out of nothing.

Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy)

He’s a really sought-after keeper and it would be amiss of me not to put a goalkeeper in my top 10.

When you have a goalkeeper that keeps clean sheets it’s a building block for the rest of the team.

Italy have something special there.

Steph has pledged the fee from each of her columns to the Darby Rimmer MND Foundation. To donate, visit: