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Five players who deserve more minutes at Euro 2024

The European Championship’s knockout rounds will get underway this weekend, as Euro 2024 begins to heat up.

It’s been a quiet start for some of the tournament’s biggest names, while others have had to be patient for a chance with their national teams. We’ve looked at five players who have had limited involvement so far but could play a decisive role in the latter rounds.

Five players who deserve more minutes at Euro 2024:

Cole Palmer (England)

Cole Palmer’s performances last season catapulted him into the England squad with the 21-year-old the rising star of the Premier League campaign. Palmer had played just a handful of Premier League games before signing for Chelsea from Manchester City but took the division by storm in 2023-24.

He scored 22 goals and provided 11 assists for the Blues, with no player in the division directly involved in more goals. Despite England’s lack of spark in the final third, Palmer was overlooked for the first two games of the tournament, before being introduced late on against Slovenia.

Within minutes of coming on he had produced two passes of imagination, before firing a late effort on target. Palmer plays with a nonchalance and confidence that can aid England this summer, with the Three Lions having looked short of ideas and belief in attacking areas.

The presence of Bukayo Saka and Jude Bellingham in his preferred roles has contributed to his lack of minutes so far, but the calls for his inclusion will grow louder if England continue to stumble through the tournament.

Lois Openda (Belgium)

Belgium are another side who have performed below expectations so far, scraping through a remarkable Group E that saw all four teams finish level on four points. Romelu Lukaku has endured a frustrating tournament so far, with the nation’s record goalscorer failing to find the net and having three goals overturned by VAR.

Lois Openda has watched on with his own frustration from the sidelines, as Belgium mustered just two goals from three games. The 23-year-old scored 28 goals in all competitions for RB Leipzig last season, with only Harry Kane and Serhou Guirassy outscoring him in the Bundesliga.

Handed just seven minutes at Euro 2024 so far, Openda could inject some pace and quality into a flat Belgium side ahead of their Round of 16 blockbuster against France.

Niclas Füllkrug (Germany)

Niclas Füllkrug has found himself in the difficult position of being Germany’s perfect Plan B. Julian Nagelsmann has preferred the mobile Kai Havertz as his centre-forward so far, with Füllkrug thriving as an impact player off the bench.

The target man thumped in a goal against Scotland in the opening fixture, before a towering header rescued a draw against Switzerland and Germany’s place as Group A winners. Füllkrug has scored twice in just 73 minutes across three substitute appearances at Euro 2024, while his record for Germany is remarkable since his debut at the age of 29.

The 31-year-old has now scored 13 goals in 19 caps – at an average of one every 57 minutes – and seven of those strikes have come from the bench.

“The one I’d like to see (in the Premier League) is Fullkrug. I have no doubt he would score goals in the top flight in England. I like him,” former Scotland striker Ally McCoist gushed to talkSPORT.

“I don’t like using the term old-fashioned centre-forward. But he’s a proper centre-forward. He brings people into play, can go in behind, is powerful, and attacks things in the box. I think he’d be a tremendous signing for somebody.”

Bradley Barcola (France)

Bradley Barcola broke into the Paris Saint-Germain team last season and the winger is now doing so for France. The 21-year-old was handed a start as Les Bleus took on Poland in their final fixture and has given Didier Deschamps’ food for thought.

In 61 minutes on the pitch, his first of Euro 2024, he won nine ground duels, attempted five dribbles, and created three chances. Barcola breaks lines with his ability to take defenders out of the game on the dribble, attacking space in behind opponents with sharp bursts of acceleration.

France are not short of firepower, but there’s an x-factor to Barcola that could boost Les Bleus.

Micky van de Ven (Netherlands)

Micky van de Ven has been forced to take a watching brief at Euro 2024 so far with the experience of Virgil van Dijk and Stefan de Vrij preferred at centre-back by Ronald Koeman.

Despite a goalless draw with France, the Dutch have looked vulnerable during clashes with Poland and Austria, falling to a 3-2 defeat to the latter.

Van de Ven was outstanding during his first season in the Premier League to earn Tottenham’s Player of the Season award, and the 23-year-old’s explosive pace and power could tighten up the Dutch defence. Alongside the aerially imposing Van Dijk, Koeman could form a terrific defensive axis if he is willing to put faith in the five-cap defender.

Read – Euro 2024 – Best XI from the tournament’s Group Stage

See more – Our Euro 2024 awards for the tournament’s group stage

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