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Egbo Ready For Euro Under-17s Championships

8 May 2014

Academy defender Mandela Egbo believes that his England under-17 side have a good chance of becoming European Champions over the coming weeks.

The full-back is part of John Peacock's squad who are currently in Malta for the European U17 Championship Finals, which begin on Friday when the Young Lions face the host nation in their first group game before they come up against Holland and Turkey.

Egbo played a key part in helping England reach the tournament after they secured three wins out of three in March's Elite Qualifying Round in Czech Republic, and he is looking to continue the mean defensive record that saw only one goal conceded throughout the two previous qualification rounds.

Speaking to, he said: "Defence is something we work on a lot, working as a unit in a back four or back five, and our record in qualifying was something to be proud of.

"We want to keep that up and get as many clean sheets out here as we can, then we know we have the attackers to get us goals.

"It's the key for any team that wants to do well - if you don't concede you don't lose. That's what we need to do."

The 16-year-old is part of a strong England squad that boasts Premier League experience in the form of Newcastle United's Adam Armstrong and Fulham's Patrick Roberts, plus another Eagles connection in Magpies goalkeeper Freddie Woodman, son of former Palace stopper Andy. They have been training at St George's Park this week and Egbo believes the squad could go far in the tournament.

"Since we met up, the lads have all been focused and we had a great few days training at St George's Park. During our time there we were all looking forward to getting out here and now we are, we want to get out on the pitch and get going.

"It's a decent place and very big, with great facilities and scenery. But we need to make sure we keep our heads focused on what we are here for though, we're here to work and have an important job to do."

And speaking about Friday's opener, he added: "There's going to be a big crowd rooting for them and the atmosphere should be great. We definitely won't sit back and underestimate them, we know how tough it is going to be and we are going to be putting everything in to make sure we get off to a good start.

"We will all bring our A-game and because we know a lot more people are watching, we are more determined to get the job done and move into the semi-finals and then the Final."

Egbo concluded that he feels like he is living the dream - but says his side won't be caught napping when it comes down to the action.

"Signing for Palace six years ago at U12 level, all I could think about was trying to do enough to stay there another two years - I never thought I'd be somewhere like this representing my country," he said.

"That's what dreams are made of - we all want to make this tournament extra special and come home as champions.”

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