FORMER York City midfielder Sander Puri has singled out England young guns Raheem Sterling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as the men he fears most ahead of his country’s Euro 16 qualifying clash against the Three Lions tomorrow.

Puri, who is still without a club after leaving Bootham Crescent in the summer, will not be adding to his 56 Estonia caps against Roy Hodgson’s men due to the same injury that dogged his progress in North Yorkshire last season.

Instead, he will be watching the game from his Estonian home where he predicts his defensive team-mates could face a difficult 90 minutes trying to contain 19-year-old Liverpool flier Sterling and Arsenal attacker Chamberlain, who is 21.

Puri said: “England have good wingers in Chamberlain and Sterling and, defensively, we have one player (Enar Jaager) who doesn’t have a club at the moment.

“He is very experienced but they will give him and the rest of the defence a good test.”

Former Torpedo Moscow and Ascoli centre-back Jaager has represented his country 108 times, while Blackpool midfielder Sergei Zenjov and Motherwell striker Henrik Ojamaa are among other uncelebrated names in the Blueshirts’ ranks.

But, with a record of just one defeat during their last nine contests in Tallinn including a 2-2 draw against a Holland team featuring Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder, Puri reckons his international team-mates are capable of surprising their high-profile, Premier League-laden visitors.

“I think England are big favourites but we have a chance of, at least, getting a draw,” reasoned the Tartu-born, 26-year-old.

“If you look at our last European qualification campaign, we played very well against Italy at home before losing 2-1. We always have a chance against big teams, so why not against England?

“The Estonian fans are good and, in our small stadium, the atmosphere is very good against big teams. This is one of the biggest games you can play in international football.

“England are the best team in this group and one of the top sides in the world and all the spectators are looking forward to this game.”

Puri feels Estonia’s strength tomorrow, at the 9,692-capacity A Le Coq Arena, will be their collective togetherness, pointing out: “There aren’t any star players.

“We just play as a team. The defence is solid and the strikers can counter attack well.”

Estonia’s qualifying campaign has been a mixed bag so far, opening up with a 1-0 home victory over the higher-ranked Slovenia before slipping to a 1-0 defeat this week against a Lithuania team they are expected to finish above in the Group E standings.

On the team’s fortunes, Puri said: “We played very well against Slovenia, although we were helped by one of their players getting sent off.

“In Lithuania, the game was played on artificial grass and was quite a tight match.

“We lost 1-0 and, while the surface might have made a bit of difference, it can’t really be used as an excuse as the Lithuania players didn’t want to play on it either. It’s still early days though.

“Switzerland have lost both games and we beat Slovenia so that third place is quite open.”

A third-spot finish will guarantee at least a shot at the France 2016 play-offs and Puri is hoping to represent his country again later in the campaign.

“It’s disappointing not to be involved against England,” he confessed.

“I have still got the little injury I had when I left York, so things haven’t been very good.

“I am struggling with my leg and have a tight muscle problem near to my groin.”

Puri was the subject of a tentative Torquay inquiry over the summer prior to aggravating his injury on Baltic Cup duty for his country in May.

He is currently training with first club Levida Tallinn, who only have four games of their season left.

On his ambitions for the future, the ex-St Mirren and Larissa midfielder added: “The plan is to try and get another move aboard but my first target is to get fit again.”

Puri is also hoping his next employers will afford him more game time than Minstermen chief Nigel Worthington did last season.

He managed just three league starts and 11 games in total and, on that frustrating period, Puri remarked: “The main reason it didn’t go as I had hoped was probably injury.

“I missed six weeks near the start of the season and, after that, it was difficult for me. When I came back, I also felt I didn’t get a real chance and only really played in the FA Cup games against Bristol Rovers.

“The manager asked me to stay in York rather than go to play for Estonia. I did that for those Cup matches and I thought I did quite well but I didn’t really get another opportunity after then and that’s football.”


McCoy on move to rival Mac

MARVIN McCOY has moved to within a point of The Press Player of the Year joint-leaders John McCombe and Russell Penn.

The Antigua and Barbuda international was our man of the match during last weekend's 0-0 home draw with Portsmouth, earning him three points towards the standings.

Lewis Montrose (two) and Femi Ilesanmi (one) also received points as The Press' second and third-highest rated performers.

The two Player of the Month bonus points, awarded to the player who received most votes from our online poll, were shared by Penn and debutant Ryan Brunt.

To be in with a chance of presenting The Press Player of the Month for October with a framed photograph at Bootham Crescent, vote for your man of the match from today’s game at Newport here or by tweeting @daveflettpress