Reece James admits a full England call-up is his ultimate dream as he nears the end of a fairytale season with Wigan Athletic.
The on-loan Chelsea full-back hadn’t played a senior game prior to joining Latics last summer.
But he’s featured in every single game this term, been man of the match most weeks, and was recently named in the Championship team of the season.
Having represented England at every level up to Under-20, the 19-year-old – Chelsea’s academy player of the season last term – has his sights set on full honours.
“It’s a dream to go on and achieve that,” he told the Wigan Observer. “Who wouldn’t want to go on and play for your country?
“Also going back to Chelsea, it’s where I’ve been and where I want to play. But I have enjoyed this experience, being on loan.”
James was pictured training with the full England squad during the recent international break, suggesting national boss Gareth Southgate is already well aware of his capabilities.
And he says the year with Latics had allowed him to showcase what he can do in the ‘real’ world of first-team football.
“You’re not going to do much just training,” he said. “You might improve a bit, but for people to recognise your ability you need to play.
“I try my best every week to achieve what I want. It’s all about having a good career and fulfilling my potential.”
James is not the only Chelsea youngster who’s been making waves, with Callum Hudson-Odoi recently making his full England debut, amid interest from Bayern Munich.
“I’ve played with Callum for many years, coming through at Chelsea – Under-10s, 12s – and he’s a brilliant player,” acknowledged James. “It would be great to follow what he’s done.
“But what has happened for someone else doesn’t mean it’s going to happen to you.
“You have to take it step by step and hopefully I get the chance.
“But of course what he’s done gives you hope.
“He’s a brilliant lad and fantastic player. Always been the same since he was young...confident and taking everyone on.
“You need to know that you are a good player, but also know when you need to do better.
“It’s about balancing that up, having a bit of both, to push to that next level. He’s always been level-headed, very skillful, and I’m proud of him, we are good friends.
“It’s a real achievement playing for England and he knows how I feel. I wish him the best all of the time.”