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Meet 5 stars from Euro 2016’s emerging nations

| 14.10.2015

With just the play-offs to come, the line-up for Euro 2016 is nearly complete and as we’ve seen there are some surprise names who’ve made it to France.

The likes of Iceland, Albania, Slovakia, Northern Ireland and Wales will all be making their European Championship debuts next year.

And within their respective squads lies talent that you may not be familiar with.

Not worry, we’ve on hand to give you the lowdown on a few names that may have gone under your radar.

Here are just five stars from Europe’s new order who could light up Euro 2016.

Roll on next summer…

Kolbeinn Sigthorsson (Iceland)

Club: Nantes

Age: 25

Position: Striker

Caps: 30

Goals: 18

Sigthorsson is now the second highest goalscorer of all-time for his country, only bettered by former Chelsea and Barcelona star Eidur Gudjohnsen but how did he originally come to prominence?

Having moved from his homeland to Eredivisie side AZ Alkmaar in 2010, a fruitful spell followed before a big move to Dutch giants Ajax.

The goals continued to flow with Sigthorsson netting a total of 53 goals in 148 appearances while playing in the Netherlands, prompting a long-standing interest from QPR.

However, it was Ligue 1 Nantes who secured the leggy striker’s signature last summer and he’ll be hoping to add to his impressive scoring record.

Lorik Cana (Albania)

Club: Nantes

Age: 32

Position:  Defender/Defensive Midfielder

Caps: 88

Goals: 1

Well-travelled Cana is something of a national hero and that status has only been enhanced by leading Albania to their first major tournament.

Originally based in France, the national team’s skipper started his career at Paris Saint-Germain in the early noughties, quickly becoming a key part of the capital club’s set-up.

Spells at Marseille, Sunderland, Galatasaray and Lazio preceded his 2015 move to Nantes and at each of those clubs there’s been a familiar theme where Cana is concerned.

The 32-year-old’s all-action performances and natural leadership have ensured he’s been a real fan favourite wherever he’s plied his trade.

And we can expect to see plenty of the same when he proudly leads out The Eagles next summer.

Robert Mak (Slovakia)

Club: PAOK

Age: 24

Position: Winger

Caps: 22

Goals: 4

Remember Robert Mak? The Slovakian winger was an FA Youth Cup winner with Manchester City back in 2008 but having failed to progress into the senior squad he was shipped off to Nuremburg.

He made an immediate impact in the Bundesliga, however, the spectre of relegation in 2014 forced his hand and a switch to Greek Super League side PAOK followed.

And it’s fair to say the talented midfielder hasn’t looked back with his start to the current season particularly impressive.

Regarded as one of his nation’s leading lights, Mak’s sure to be instrumental in his country’s Euro 2016 campaign.

Aleksandar Dragovic (Austria)

Club: Dynamo Kiev

Age: 24

Position: Centre-back

Caps: 38

Goals: 1

Former Manchester United target Aleksandar Dragovic has garnered a reputation as a tough-tackling defender for both club and country which is something for fans to savour when Austria make only their second appearance in a Euro finals.

He’s also quite the character too, having been forced to apologise to Swiss politician Uli Maurer for repeatedly slapping him (in jest) while celebrating Basel’s cup win in 2012.

More recently he’s been impressing for Dynamo Kiev and interest in Dragovic’s services is only likely to intensify once he takes to the big international stage.

Ozan Tufan (Turkey)

Club: Fenerbahce

Age: 20

Position:  Midfielder

Caps: 17

Goals: 1

Tufan is another rising star with who’s been linked to a host of Premier League clubs in the past but it’s in his native Turkey where he’s making his name for now.

A product of Bursaspor, the exciting prospect moved to Fener last summer and recently featured in the club’s Europa League draw at Celtic.

Capable of operating as either a holding midfielder, winger or in defence, his versatility makes him a useful option for national manager Fatih Terim.

He’s also been known to chip in with the odd goal or two as well. This effort for Turkey against Denmark was pretty decent…

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William Geldart

William contributed to a number of online football blogs before finally finding his pot of gold at the end of the rainbow alongside the rest of the Ladbrokes News team. Now indulging passions for football, horse racing, greyhounds, boxing and political betting. Supports Wycombe Wanderers and can be spotted at various lower league and non-league grounds across the country.