Wigan Athletic star flying solo to Spain!
Joe Gelhardt has been ruled out of international duty because of injury – but club-mate Jensen Weir will still be flying the flag for Wigan Athletic in the England Under-18 set-up.
Gelhardt has been forced out of the matches against Russia, Norway and Czech Republic in Spain, after being stretchered off in the dying seconds of Saturday’s 3-0 home defeat to Brentford.
He was given the all clear after being taken to hospital as a precaution, but will continue to be monitored by the club’s medical team at Euxton.
That means Weir, also 17, will be flying solo with the Three Lions – and a rare few days away from his pal.
“I see Joffy more than my brother at the moment, it’s crazy,” smiled Weir.
“But he’s a great lad, great to be around and we try to push each other on all the time.”
Not that Weir will have too much time to miss Gelhardt, with another huge opportunity to impress.
“It’s great because I learn a lot from trips like this, from the coaches,” Weir revealed.
“You’re visiting different countries all the time, and it’s nice to have that contrast from the club life.”
Having made his league debut – alongside Gelhardt – in the final away game of last season at Birmingham, Weir’s progress this term has been hampered by injury.
But he admits he’s learning every single day just being involved with the first-team squad.
“The management and staff are always great with me, helping me in training and stuff,” he added.
“All the players have been good too – especially the other midfielders – giving me tips and advice when they can.”
The Young Lions will play Russia first tomorrow (2pm GMT), before tackling Norway on Saturday, November 16 (2pm GMT) and the Czechs next Monday, November 18 (2pm GMT) with all three fixtures being staged in Murcia.
“One of our key aims this season is to see as many players as we can,” said head coach Ian Foster.
“We’ve not got a couple through injury, but we have two new goalkeepers, plus some uncapped players and some who haven’t been with the U18s this year, so it’s a great chance to assess the squad.
“We’re expecting physical tests and a lot of football, which is different to what a lot of players might be used to at club level.”