One of the Ryman Youth League’s stars is dreaming of following in the footsteps of Chris Smalling after his selection for the England Schoolboys.
Like the Manchester United and England defender did back in 2009 before his move from Maidstone United, Stones star James O’Halloran is looking forward to taking on the home nations in the Centenary Shield after he was named in the ESFA’s U18s squad hoping to go one better than last season when England finished as runners-up to the Republic of Ireland.
Proud officials at last season’s Ryman Premier champions say the 16-year-old winger earned a place in the 18-man squad for the upcoming international campaign during February and March after making it through regional trials before coming up against 32 other hopefuls during national trials last weekend at the Lilleshall National Sports Centre.
The Stones are currently third in the Ryman East Youth League table and the pupil at Wrotham School will be more than happy to follow in Smalling’s path by representing his country for the first time while playing for the Kent club.
He said: “Everyone that I’ve been talking to has said about where this could lead. I’ve just got to see how it goes and take it as it comes.
“I’ve got to train my hardest and play my best to impress my managers and take on board what they’ve got to say.”
He added: “It’s a great opportunity for me. The fact I got into the final 32 was an achievement and it’s still sinking in that I got into the 18.”
O’Halloran could make his debut on March 4 against Northern Ireland and Stones 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.”