We often boast of our Academy’s achievements… and we have good cause to! Another stat to be proud of: over the past 12 months, no less than 16 of our Academy players have been involved on national-team duty at youth level with England.
And to give an impression of where we fare compared to other teams… only Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal and Tottenham could claim more representatives than Reading in the recent international break!
According to an article on FourFourTwo, our eight call-ups were only outranked by that quartet of Premier League giants – meaning the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool, Everton and West Ham were all surpassed by our boys’ contribution to the future of the Three Lions.
While five young players have already made first-team debuts in the blue and white hoops in opening month of the 2017/18 season, the younger age-groups are showing signs that they can follow in their footsteps and, hopefully, fulfil their potential to have a prosperous career in the game.
Most notably, Luke Southwood returned from South Korea as a World Cup winner with the Under-20 squad over the summer – and met HRH The Duke of Cambridge at Kensington Palace last week – and Danny Loader captained England’s Under-18s in the most recent international period, shortly after his 17th birthday.
But those aren’t the only young Royals to have earned their stripes with the national side over the course of the past year.
Jack Nolan, who has been regularly involved with our Under-18 side since the age of 15, made his England Under-17 debut against Turkey last month, and then started against Italy at Aggborough in the final fixture of the St George’s Park tournament.
This season, 15-year-olds Jeriel Dorsett and Oliver Pendlebury have been involved on a number of occasions for our U18s… and along with Josh Brooking and Claudio Osario, they comprised the four Royals who were called up in August to play against Turkey and Romania at Under-16 level.
Imari-Narain Samuels, Coniah Boyce-Clarke, Abdirahman Adan Mohamed, Lynford Sackey, Dejan Tetak, Adam Desbois, Harvey Collins, Malachi Talent-Aryeetey and Diamond Edwards have all also been involved in England camps across U17, U16 and U15 age-groups too.
With more and more fixtures available at Under-23 and Under-21 levels for our youngsters in recent seasons, that all bodes well. Indeed, nine of the 12 players who held Colchester United's senior side to a 2-2 draw in normal time in our Checkatrade Trophy fixture last month were England-eligible products of our Academy!
Our continued congratulations go to all of our youngsters who are representing club and country in such a dignified and professional manner.