A total of 32 players from EFL clubs will contest the final stages of UEFA Euro 2016, a record figure for clubs outside of English football’s top-flight.
Leading the way are Northern Ireland with 12 players from clubs across all three divisions of the EFL including Reading’s Oliver Norwood, Jamie Ward of Nottingham Forest and Leeds United’s Stuart Dallas.
On Saturday, in Paris, they will take on a group-winning Welsh squad that includes 7 EFL players including Reading full-back Chris Gunter and Dave Edwards of Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Fresh from their memorable late victory over Italy, the Republic of Ireland, whose squad includes 10 current EFL players, will face hosts France in Lyon with Norwich City pair Robbie Brady and Wes Hoolahan likely to play a key role once again having combined to score Ireland’s stunning winner over the Azzurri. They’ll be joined by Derby County duo Jeff Hendrick and Richard Keogh, Blackburn Rovers’ Shane Duffy and Daryl Murphy of Ipswich Town who are all set to feature prominently. Facing them in the French squad will be Moussa Sissoko of Newcastle United who impressed in Les Bleus’ final group match with Switzerland.
From further afield, Aron Gunnarsson of Cardiff City and Charlton Athletic’s Johann Berg Gudmundsson are likely to line-up for Iceland against England, with goalkeeper Tom Heaton from last season’s EFL Champions, Burnley included in Roy Hodgson’s 23 man squad, sixteen of whom have played in the EFL during their senior careers with a further four players (Daniel Sturridge, Jack Wilshere, Chris Smalling and Raheem Sterling) having being developed in full or in part by an EFL club’s youth system. Only Wayne Rooney, Marcus Rashford and Eric Dier have had no involvement with an EFL club.
EFL Chief Executive, Shaun Harvey said: “I think our clubs and their fans will be rightly proud to see so many familiar faces appearing in the last 16 and beyond. Never before have we been so widely represented at a major championship.
“It’s testament to the development and recruitment of players across our clubs and reflects the growing status of our competition in the global game. The Premier League is undoubtedly a world leader, but it is also a source of strength to English football that it also has the best second, third and fourth tier competitions in world football too.
“We are fully committed to developing more and better home grown players for English football and, in doing so, we’ll continue to deliver outstanding talent for the other Home Nations and the Republic of Ireland along the way.
“The success of our players at Euro 2016 certainly whets the appetite for the 2016/17 EFL season which will see some famous clubs and some outstanding managerial and playing talent joining what is already one of Europe’s most competitive leagues. It is going to be a memorable season.”
The new Sky Bet EFL season kicks-off on Friday, August 5 with Fulham v Newcastle United live on Sky Sports