Stoke City: Sam Coulson is the man for England coach Blake
STOKE City have a second centre-half in an England squad following Sam Coulson's selection for tomorrow night's under-18s international friendly against Italy at Mansfield Town.
The Bolton-born defender, who moved to Stoke after being released by Manchester City, follows in the footsteps of Ryan Shawcross following his recent selection for the senior squad.
"I would imagine Sam sees Ryan as a role model," said Stoke's Academy manager Dave Wright, "and it's just so happened that their call-ups have happened at the same time and they play in the same position, which is a nice coincidence.
"The fact that Sam's a first-year scholar going into a team of mainly second-years, and of course that it's England, makes his selection extra special.
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"What's also pleasing is that Sam's old club, Manchester City, didn't see Sam's potential, but we did. It's a great reward for his and the Academy's hard work."
Coulson, who will not be 17 until December, will join five colleagues from the Stoke under-18s team in representing their countries in recent weeks.
Wright continued: "We had Curtis Strong and Jack Nardiello representing Wales, then Ryan O'Reilly was called-up for Ireland, while Dale Eve was with Bermuda and Kris Scott went away with the United States.
"We're delighted that these players are getting such recognition – it's definitely a measure of how far we've come here."
Wright says Coulson is also indebted to former Stoke defender and Academy coach Noel Blake, who is now the FA's highly-respected youth-team supremo.
"Noel has been very influential in terms of liaising with us," Wright said.
"He's shown plenty of interest in our progress, and Sam should be grateful to him for getting the opportunity."
Coulson has featured in every match for Stoke's under-18s this season, but they have had a mixed campaign so far, winning four and losing four of their eight matches in the new national structure of Academy Premier League.
TICKETS are still available for tomorrow's game at Mansfield Town and can be booked by calling (01623) 482482.
They cost £3 for adults and £1 for concessions.