Young Lions’ birthday wish

It’s been a cause for celebration within the England U18 camp this week as the squad celebrate a hat-trick of birthdays – but all three share the same wish.

Defenders Callum Connolly of Everton, Chelsea’s Jake Clarke-Salter and Manchester City’s Tosin Adarabiyo will all turn 17 in the northern Italian town of Caorle whilst on duty with Neil Dewsnip’s Young Lions.

And despite the celebrations, the trio are all hungry enough to have their cake and eat it as they told TheFA.com that the best present they could receive would be a victory on Wednesday.

ITALY v ENGLAND

U18 International
2pm, Wednesday 24 September 2014
Stadio Giovanni Chiggiato, Caorle

“I’ve never been away from my family before on my birthday – but everyone made it really nice. The lads gave me a little sing-song, and I got a cake,” said Clarke-Salter, whose big day was Tuesday.

“But the only birthday wish I’ve got is to beat Italy. I’ve watched a bit of Italian football, and played against a few of their sides for my club, and they will be really physical.

“They’ll be right on it as well with it being in their own country – it’s going to be a tough game.”

The central defender made his England debut earlier this month during the 4-1 victory over Holland, and he admits it’s been a great start to the season for him after being sidelined for the last year.

“It’s been brilliant so far, I was so happy to get my debut and thankfully I’ve been picked again – it’s all great experience for me.

“Everyone made it really nice. The lads gave me a little sing-song, and I got a cake”

Clarke-Salter on his birthday

“I got picked for the England U16 camp but then picked up an injury that kept me out for a full year. I worked really hard to get back, and knowing I was close to the national team before gave me a bit of inspiration, and I was delighted to eventually win my first cap.

He added: “It’s much louder out on the pitch in international football and the play is very quick. It’s so fast.

“But I was buzzing when I got out there, and all my family came to support me. It’s not only me, but the injury affected my family too, so they were really proud of me as well as I was of myself – it was a great feeling.”

Wednesday then saw the turn of Connolly to blow out the candles, and after a goal-crazy month for both club and country, he is naturally hoping for a win too – with another bulge of the net to boot.

“Following my brace for England against Holland a few weeks back, I scored another two for my club on Saturday – so I’m in a bit of form,” he revealed.

“I wouldn’t mind scoring again, that’d be great on my birthday, but the important thing is we get the victory.”

And on spending his first birthday away from his family, he added: “It’s a bit weird, but the boys have all wished me a happy birthday and made me feel at home.

“I wouldn’t mind scoring again, that’d be great on my birthday”

Callum Connolly’s birthday wish

“It’s a nice place, the hotel, area and facilities are great. There’s going to be a decent crowd on Wednesday, and it gives us something to look forward to.

“The last game at Bury’s ground had a decent crowd, and it gave us a boost. Hopefully we’ll get another one when we get on the pitch and we can get the win.

“They’re a good side, very competitive, but so are we. It will go right down to the final whistle.”

And on matchday itself, Tosin Adarabiyo will have the double whammy of potentially winning his first cap for the U18s and turning 17.

The City centre-half said: “It’s great to be playing with England against one of the top international sides on my birthday. I definitely want a win and a clean sheet.”

“A year ago we had a friendly at City, so I was away during the day but still got to see my family. This is my first one away from them, but it’s great.

“The lads have been brilliant and I’m loving it.”

You can find out whether the trio’s birthday dreams will come true by following @England on Twitter.