TOWN'S Alex Smithies will have coaching from one of the best goalkeepers of all time when he links up with the England Under 17 squad on Thursday.
The 15-year-old from Golcar has been chosen to travel for the Nordic Tournament in Iceland, when England will be playing Finland, the Faroe Islands and Sweden.
And the goalkeeping coach for Kenny Swain's squad, who fly out next weekend, is former England, Liverpool and Tottenham great Ray Clemence.
"It's a fantastic honour for Alex to be called up for the squad in such an excellent tournament," said Town's Academy director Gerry Murphy.
"The whole experience will be great for him and to be receiving coaching from someone like Ray Clemence, who has been at the very top of the game for such a long time, is just tremendous."
Phil Senior, who went to the former National Soccer School at Lilleshall, was Town's last goalkeeping representative at Under 15 and Under 16 level with England, while centre-back Tom Clarke made his Under 18 debut against Norway at Vale Park seven weeks ago.
Smithies, a six-footer from Colne Valley High School, played for Westend in the Gelpack (now Bupa) Junior Sunday League before signing for Town as a 10-year-old.
"Alex is a very athletic build, ideal for a goalkeeper, and we've got high hopes for him," added Murphy.
England's squad meet up on Thursday and fly out to Reykjavik on Sunday.
Their first match is against Finland in Reykjavik next Tuesday, August 2, and then they play the Faroe Islands in Kopavogur 24 hours later.
The final group game is against Sweden in Akranes on Friday, August 5, with the play-off and finals scheduled for the Sunday (August 7).
Town's Academy, who were playing at Tranmere today, have home pre-season friendlies against Bradford City (at Storthes Hall on Friday, 1.00) and Hull City (Storthes Hall, August 4, 1.00) before a trip to Ireland.
The squad fly out to Dublin on Monday, August 8, play UCD Under 21s the following night and Shelbourne Under 21s on the Thursday.
The trip is being sponsored by former Town chairman Geoff Headey, of Habasco and Caneworld.