James O’Halloran is looking forward to following in the footsteps of England’s Chris Smalling after being called up by England Schoolboys U18s.
The 16-year-old Maidstone United left winger is celebrating after making it through regional and national trials to earn a place in the 18-man squad for England’s defence of their Centenary Shield title.
Like Manchester United’s Smalling who was first called up by his country while turning out for the Stones in the Ryman Youth League and won the competition, the teenager is representing England in tournament fixtures against Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland in March and April.
O’Halloran started playing football with Meopham, moving on to Invicta Lions, Corinthian and Bearsted before arriving at the Gallagher Stadium last season.
He was recommended to trial for the English Schools Football Association representative side by Kent County county coaches John Coles and Steve King. The first trial in Hertfordshire saw him compete against 60 others before an area heat against 32 trialists from around the country to choose an 18-man squad.
Maidstone manager Jay Saunders said: “I am delighted for him. It’s great for the youth lads here to see someone from the club do it and it will give them the belief that others could follow.
“I saw him play last season and we had him in to train with us pre-season and he didn’t look out of place. He’s got a good future ahead of him, he’s someone we’ll keep an eye on and I hope he does really well.”