Promising Hartlepool United youth team player and Hartlepool College of Further Education student Oscar Fletcher has been called up for his country, much to the delight of his coaches.
Hartlepool United boss Graeme Lee has led the praise for the versatile midfielder following Fletcher’s inclusion in the England Under-18s Schoolboys’ squad.
Fletcher has impressed throughout his first season on a programme run by Hartlepool College in partnership with Pools and he has been rewarded following an extensive trial process.
The first year student is studying a Full Extended Diploma in Sports Coaching & Exercise Science while wearing Hartlepool United’s crest and colours.
Lee said “Being selected in the England Schoolboys squad is a fantastic achievement for Oscar.
“This shows the partnership between the club and the college and the work that Ian McGuckin and Ian Clark are doing is providing the best opportunities for the young people within the programme.”
Ian McGuckin, the College’s Head of High Performance Coaching, and Ian Clark, its High Performance Coordinator, are full of pride for Fletcher.
The teenager, from Middlesbrough, came through the final Pro-Direct Trial just before Christmas at Lilleshall National Sports Centre with his coveted place - even though he can play in this age group next season too.
The successful 18 players were first nominated by their county sides to attend regional trials that led to the construction of four regional squads.
Those squads went head-to-head in step two to form north and south squads before then travelling to Lilleshall for the final stage.
Clark said: “We are very proud of Oscar and his achievement. Oscar is a very good student athlete, his work ethic and attitude is first class. This was shown when Oscar was our first recipient of the October player of the month award.
“It is the first time Hartlepool College has had an England call-up since 2017 when Shahban Mohammed captained England Schoolboys and Connor Short was also in the squad.
“This is, first and foremost, a credit to Oscar but also shows the environment that we are creating is a positive one where young players can thrive.
“It proves the good work Ian McGuckin is doing on the field but also in the classroom as Oscar is regularly achieving high grades.”
Another of Hartlepool College’s students, Charlie Rowe, narrowly missed out after reaching the Lilleshall final with Fletcher, who is the only member of this year’s squad to be included from this area.
Fletcher will now be part of the England set-up when they play friendlies, including one against the RAF, before appearing in the prestigious Centenary Shield next year.
McGuckin said: “It’s an excellent achievement and well deserved. Oscar has transferred seamlessly into our full-time Football Development Programme at the College, displaying excellent attributes, most notably displaying a team first attitude, often on occasions playing out of position to support the needs of the team.
“Some excellent performances over the last few months rounded off with a number of key goals have capped a good year for Oscar. I am pretty sure he will thrive on the level of challenge this next step of his learning journey will provide him with.”
*For further information about any of the courses on offer at Hartlepool College check out https://www.hartlepoolfe.ac.uk/