Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Wednesday June 29 2011
Wigan Athletic have confirmed that Latics` young professionals Callum McManaman and Lee Nicholls have been included in England`s final 21 man squad for the FIFA Under 20s World Cup, to be held in Colombia in July and August - the first time any players from Wigan Athletic have been involved in the event.
Manager Roberto Martinez has described the news as 'a real piece of Latics history`.
Head coach Brian Eastick, assisted by England Under 21 Manager Stuart Pearce, had initially selected both players in a group of 30, but they have now made the cut for the squad which will travel to Colombia next month, along with the cream of young players drawn from leading Barclays Premier League clubs including Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City.
Lee Nicholls has played for his country at Under 19 level but for McManaman, this would be a first cap for England at any level and manager Roberto Martinez says it is a just reward for the work they have been putting in.
"This is a real piece of Latics history," he said, "Callum had a great season last campaign, where he broke through into the first team picture on merit and scored on his debut in the FA Cup. Lee experienced being in and around a first team squad during three loan spells at other clubs in the football league, as well as training and travelling with the Wigan first team.
"They have both progressed extremely well over the past two seasons and this call-up is a reward for all their hard work. They both have enormous potential and to be selected to represent your country is a huge honour, both for the players, but also for Wigan Athletic as a club.
"We wish them all the best and hope they can enjoy the experience and be great ambassadors for Wigan and England. They will get all our support from long distance."
England have been drawn in a tough-looking Group F, alongside Argentina, Mexico and North Korea. They will be hoping to progress and face further tests against the likes of Brazil, Spain, France and Portugal.
The competition will take place all over Colombia, with England`s group games being played out in the 46,000 capacity Estadio Atanasio Girardot in Medellin and in the 26,500 capacity Estadio Jaime Morón León in Cartagena.
ENGLAND v North Korea, Medellin, Friday 29 July, 2.30pm local time, 8.30pm UK time
ENGLAND v Argentina, Medellin, Monday 1 August, 8.00pm local time, 2.00am UK time
ENGLAND v Mexico, Cartagena, Thursday 4 August, 5.00pm local time, 11.00pm UK time
The final, should England progress will be played in the capital Bogota on Saturday 20 August, which would mean both players missing Latics` opening two league games.
But Roberto Martinez added: "That is not ideal preparation as far as the team is concerned but the World Cup at Under 20s level is a unique football event, and this is a once in a life-time opportunity to play it."
The England under 20 Squad:
Goalkeepers: Jak Alnwick (Newcastle United), Jack Butland (Birmingham City), Lee Nicholls (Wigan Athletic).
Defenders: Nathan Baker (Aston Villa), Ben Gordon (Chelsea), Jack Robinson (Liverpool), Adam Smith (Tottenham Hotspur), Reece Wabara (Manchester City), Andre Wisdom (Liverpool), Scott Wootton (Manchester United).
Midfielders: Reece Brown (Manchester United), Gary Gardner (Aston Villa), Jason Lowe (Blackburn Rovers), Dean Parrett (Tottenham Hotspur), George Thorne (West Bromwich Albion).
Forwards: Benik Afobe (Arsenal), Nicholas Ajose (Manchester United), Callum McManaman (Wigan Athletic), Alex Nimely (Manchester City), Ryan Noble (Sunderland), Matthew Phillips (Blackpool).
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Date:Wednesday June 29 2011
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