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Mancienne ready for Hamburg test

England Under-21 international Michael Mancienne believes his decision to quit Chelsea and join Bundesliga side Hamburg will make him a better player.

Mancienne, who looks certain to captain England in their European U-21 Championship opener against Spain on Sunday, spent the majority of the last three years on loan at QPR and Wolves, making just six appearances for Chelsea.

The talented defender had other offers but is excited by a move abroad and will be reunited with Chelsea's former sporting director Frank Arnesen.

"I think it'll have a great benefit," he said. "It's a new challenge for me and to play for a big team such as Hamburg and to be playing week in, week out. I'm really honoured to go there and really looking forward to the challenge."

Mancienne will become only a handful of English players to have braved a move to one of Europe's top leagues in recent seasons. He claimed it was a mystery why more of his compatriots had not followed suit.

"To be honest, I don't know," he said. "I saw it as a massive opportunity to go abroad and to play in the German league, so I'm really excited by it. I did have a few other options, but I saw Hamburg as my biggest option."

Mancienne hopes to arrive at his new club with a European Under-21 Championship-winners' medal around his neck. The defender is one of only three survivors from the 2009 tournament in Sweden, where England suffered final heartache.

"Everyone's really up for it," he said. "In the build-up at La Cala, all the boys were really excited and couldn't wait for the tournament to start. And I think everyone's really geed up for the first game tomorrow."

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