Southend United Academy manager Ricky Duncan hailed youngster Ted Smith after the young goalkeeper kept a clean sheet on his England Under 18s debut.
Smith played 80 minutes of England’s 4-0 win over Hungary at St George’s Park earlier this week and Duncan believes the youngster can thrive from the experience and push on to earn a professional deal at Roots Hall.
“I’m massively delighted for Ted – he’s been with the academy for a number of years and he’s deserved this for all his hard work,” Duncan said.
“He’s taken on the role of skipper for the under-18’s this season and that’s helped him. You get out what you put in and this is an excellent example of that.
“Phil Brown has also helped him earn this call up because he called him up to the first-team for a few friendlies at the start of the season and he gained a lot of confidence from that.
“Everyone at the club should be very proud because it’s down to everyone’s hard work, including those fans who contribute to the Blues Lottery.
“They have also played a significant part in helping fund the academy which has then allowed Ted to develop his game further.”
With Smith yet to make his league debut, Duncan is keen to see the youngster use this experience to propel himself forward and push his claims for a professional deal:
“This experience will give him a lot of belief and now it’s all about him pushing on and doing whatever he can to earn a professional contract at the end of the season,” Duncan added.
“We’ve also got the FA Youth Cup coming up which he’ll play a big part in. He’s got to focus on Southend United now and working hard, which is what he’s done all season.”