Junior Stanislas and Freddie Sears have been given a lift by being added to the England Under-19 squad for a prestigious friendly against Croatia on Tuesday.
With the more experienced James Tomkins already named in the Young Lions selection for the match in Swindon, the addition of 18-year-old duo Sears and Stanislas brings the West Ham United contingent to three. Jordan Spence, still only 17, has also been involved with the England U19s this season but has not been called this time. The news is a further lift for the Academy, already on a high after a tremendous 2-0 win at a strong Arsenal side on Saturday.
Academy director Tony Carr said: "This is great recognition for the club. We want our young lads to play for their country. It gives them confidence and helps them to push on from the youths to the senior side." He added that it was particularly pleasing for prolific striker Sears to get the call, having been given his first international taste in a friendly against Belarus back in September only to then be frustrated by injury.
Sears played 27 minutes in that match after coming off the bench, and looked set to continue with England because of a fine scoring run with West Ham United. However, a broken foot set him back and he has not figured again until this latest call-up. It is richly deserved, with the striker having scored five goals in four games since the turn of the year. "I am delighted for Freddie," Carr added. "He got called up before and got injured so it is nice for him to be involved."
Stanislas is also looking for his second taste of England duty, having been called for the friendly away to Germany last November - the U19s last outing. The attacking midfielder was also forced into a spell on the sidelines over the turn of the year, recovering from a bruised foot to return last week and then get another run-out against Arsenal on Saturday. That Germany game also featured Tomkins, who was once more with the first team up at Wigan Athletic on Saturday afternoon.
Tuesday night's match will be the perfect opportunity for England to prepare for the next qualifying phase of their bid to reach this July's final European U19 Championship final round in Ukraine. The Young Lions will meet Poland, Serbia and Belarus on 26, 28 and 31 May respectively with the group winners from this Elite round going forward to the eight-team finals.
Click here to read the Arsenal weekend match report.