5 Lesser-Known Gems to Watch against the Home Nations

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Over the next seven days, the combined powers of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will face an array of world-class players which includes Andriy Yarmolenko, Arjen Robben, Lasse Schone and Mario Gotze.

But as well as those box office names, each side has some hidden gems for fans to watch out for. Here are five of the best.

Jonas Hector (1. FC Koln).

Germany v. England – March 26

Roy Hodgson’s men will be wary of a Germany side filled with stellar talent. But Hector, who took over the left-back mantle from Philip Lahm has flown under the radar, despite commanding performances for club and country. Setting up goals for Muller and Gotze in September’s 3-1 win over Poland, he’s part of a squad who are 12/1 to match that scoreline against England.

Lasse Vibe (Brentford)

Scotland v Denmark – March 29

Whilst Vibe is utilised as a striker at Griffin Park, Denmark coach Age Hareide prefers to play the pacy 29-year-old on the wing. A skilful and exciting addition to the Danish squad, Vibe is looking to make his 10th international appearance in Glasgow. Having netted seven times in the Championship for the struggling Bees, he could save the Danes’ bacon if they go behind on Tuesday night.

Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid)

Northern Ireland v Slovenia – March 28

Slovenia may have missed out on the Euros this summer, but no blame can be put on the man between the sticks. 23-year-old Oblak has established himself as number one at Atletico Madrid, helping his club side into the last-eight of the Champions League. Having kept out the opposition in his last two Slovenia games, he’s likely to be chosen again and his side is 21/10 to keep a clean sheet in Belfast.

Anwar El Ghazi (Ajax)

England v Netherlands – March 29

The prodigiously talented young Ajax winger has recently broken into the Netherlands national side, and the 20-year-old is likely to cause England’s defence all sorts of problems at Wembley on Tuesday. Having netted in Ajax’s 2-0 win away at PSV Eindhoven to install his side at the top of the Eredivisie, the wing wizard could be a hugely effective weapon in bringing the Dutch a victory on English soil.

Taras Stepanenko (Shakhtar Donetsk)

Ukraine v Wales – March 28

A robust defensive midfielder who captained his country at under-21 level, Wales fans are likely to see the Shakhtar man put in a crunching challenge or two during Monday’s game. With just one Ukraine goal in 25 appearances – against the titans of Niger, no less – he tends to leave the forays forward to the likes of Andriy Yarmolenko but is a rock for a Ukraine side who are 4/5 to win against Wales.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Dave Burin

Dave graduated with an MA in English Literature at Durham University, and worked in marketing before joining the Ladbrokes News team. A Man United fan and avid groundhopper, he’s also an ardent follower of Rugby League. You can usually find him at a ground near you, clutching a big cup of tea.