Jack Stephens believes England Under-21s will face a challenging opponent when they take on their Italian counterparts at St Mary's tomorrow night – but he says that is exactly what they want.
The Young Lions are in action for the first time since finishing their successful qualification campaign for the Euro 2017 finals, with the friendly against Italy being followed by a trip to face France, next Monday.
"Obviously, Italy are going to be a strong side," said Stephens. "I think the 21s played them two years ago at the Euros, so it will be a tough game.
"We've got France after that, so it's two very good games to be involved in and hopefully we can put in a couple of good performances and get two good results.
"We need to be tested and they'll definitely do that.
"Obviously, going into the tournament next year, we're going to be playing some really strong teams, so we've got to be ready for that, and these two games give us that opportunity."