Defender in line to be handed young Lions debut after being called up for Toulon Tournament
Rob Holding was thrilled to be handed his maiden England Under-21s call-up last week ahead of the upcoming Toulon Tournament.
Impressing during his breakthrough season at Macron Stadium, the defender was named Wanderers’ Player of the Season after making 30 appearances for the Whites and scoring one goal over the course of the 2015/16 campaign.
And with his performances not going unnoticed by head coach Gareth Southgate, Holding could be in line to make his international debut for the young Lions against Portugal on Thursday.
“When I got the call-up, on standby initially, I was thrilled,” the 20-year-old told thefa.com. “So when I got a call the following weekend to say that I was needed, I was over the moon.
“I didn’t even realise I was being watched until Gareth Southgate saw me against Hull at the end of the season.
“It’s a good end to the season for me. I want to finish on a high after the struggles and sad time of relegation.
“But for me personally to have that break and then straight to being called up for England, it can’t get much better than that.”
Holding continued: “It’s something all young players strive towards and if you get noticed, there could be an opportunity there.
“I’ve really enjoyed myself so far and am massively looking forward to it. I can’t wait to get started now and pull the shirt on.
“Even if it’s just for ten minutes at the end of a game, just to wear the shirt and play will be a great honour.”
After their tournament opener against Portugal, England also take on Guinea, Paraguay and Japan in the group-stages with a potential final or third-place play-off game also on the horizon.
And although Holding is fully focussed on winning a potential young Lions debut during the tournament, he will not be content with that alone with the defender determined to continue progressing.
“It was the first time I’d been to St. George’s Park,” he said. “It was exciting to go there and the training has been bright and sharp ever since.
“It’s a lot faster and I’ve been getting used to it but that’s what it needs to be. That’s the step up and I’m hopeful I can deal with it.
“I knew a few of the players because there’s a few big names in terms of where they’re playing, but it’s a good set of lads and they’ve accepted me into the group fine.
“There are players at the lower ends of the leagues and if they can get into the first team, take their chance and play games, you can get noticed.
“It’s a knock-on effect. If you get that chance to play and take it by playing well, you’ll be kept in the loop for things coming up in the future.”
Photo credit: thefa.com
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