Bizarre reason Middlesbrough's Luke Thomas is in England's Euro 2024 sticker-album squad

Sticker-collecting football fans might have been surprised with some of the selections for England's European Championships squad this summer in the official sticker book - which bizarrely included Middlesbrough loanee Luke Thomas.

Filling sticker books during big international tournaments has been a tradition for many football fans for years, though this years certainly has an interesting twist. England's squad is without players such as John Stones, Phil Foden and Bakayo Saka, but features one-cap Rico Lewis and Boro's uncapped loan man Thomas.

Many buying the new official sticker book took to social media to point out the strange inclusions in Boro's squad. Having struggled this season on loan at Sheffield United and then Boro, it can be fairly confidently predicted that the Leicester City-owned left-back will not be making Gareth Southgate's squad for this summer's tournament in Germany. So why does he feature in the book?

The reason is a rights issue after Topps acquired the rights to become the official provider of the Euro 2024 sticker album from Panini, but don't have all of the rights to player likenesses, kits and club badges. It means, as well as the surprise picks in the England squad, teams like England won't be in their official kits on the book, while Wales have been included despite not qualifying.

Panini still holds the rights for some top European teams including England, Spain, Germany and current Euros champs Italy. They are launching their own sticker album and collection to rival that of the official one from Topps.

A spokesperson from Topps told the BBC it was 'proud' of its first sticker collection but admitted it was disappointed that a 'small number of players' were missing. They explained: "This is due to the tournament's former sticker partner having blocked certain parts of the collection, to the detriment of the fans.

"Unlike the former sticker partner, we are committed to the fans and believe the offering of stickers and cards - and range of current and former players - will get everyone excited for the tournament."

Meanwhile, a Panini spokesperson said: "Panini has been synonymous with football for over 60 years, and we remain committed to producing the best possible product for our collectors. We hope our collectors will enjoy finding players for England alongside favourites from France, Germany, Italy and Spain, all in 100% official kits, in this compact and completable collection."