England Under 17s kick off the European Under 17 Championship against Malta tomorrow evening.
After an unbeaten qualification campaign, England will go into the tournament full of confidence.
England captain Ryan Ledson told thefa.com: “Coming away with England, especially to big tournaments like this one, is great.
“You are playing against the best players in Europe for your age, so you have to challenge yourself against the best and it can only improve you.
“The matches will all be on Eurosport, so I’ll have a lot of mates and family watching and I think that will be even better for us. The lads will step up and we can show everyone back home what a good age group we are,” said the Everton youngster.
England also face Turkey and Holland in the group stage. They’ll face either Scotland, Portugal, Germany or Switzerland if they are to progress to the semi-finals.
“The lads played Holland in the Algarve Tournament earlier this year, but even though I missed that, I played against them at the Montaigu Tournament for the U16s last season. I definitely believe we can beat them – even though it is going to be a tough test.
“Then we have Turkey. They are a strong side too, but with our squad I believe that we can beat anyone.
“With our record in qualifying, and the squad we have, we come here with confidence. We are unbeaten in six, and we want to go all the way.”
Among the England squad is FA Youth Cup final winning duo Dom Solanke and Isaiah Brown as well as finalist Patrick Roberts.
Newcastle United’s Adam Armstrong was the top scorer throughout qualification and will play alongside club teammate Freddie Woodman, who represents England between the sticks.
Ledson was on the bench for Everton first-team’s fixture against Southampton last weekend and heaped heavy praise on the rest of the squad that have recently earned a first-team call-up: “Patrick Roberts and Adam Armstrong have already shown this squad contains players who are ready for first-team football,” he added.
“Both Pat and Arma have the quality to make that step-up and it has been deserved. I think it shows when you are away on international duty that if you are performing well and scoring goals, your club will take notice.
“It gives a boost to the rest of the lads in the squad as well and shows that it is possible to push on into our first-team squads.”