National colleges call-up for Stags trio

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Three Mansfield Town youth team players have been selected for the English Colleges National Team for 2017/18.

Wingers Sam Jackson and Ellis Williamson and striker Jake Dumbleton have been named in the 18-man squad following a selection process which began with 90 nominated players from different colleges across the country.

All three players are on the club’s academy residential scheme at Brooksby Melton College and are coached on a day-to-day basis by Stags’ coach Scott Rickards.

The course combines classroom-based learning and development as a footballer as part of the club’s partnership with the college.

Jackson, Williamson and Dumbleton’s first trip with the Colleges’ squad will be to St George’s Park next month.

They will arrive at the National Football Centre on Wednesday, 13th December, train that afternoon and play a friendly against Independent Schools FA the following day, after an overnight stay.

In January 2018, the English Colleges side will face an Australian team at Sheffield Hallam University, before facing Welsh Colleges at the same venue on 7th February.

The Stags’ players will be travelling to Rome on Saturday, 17th February until Friday, 23rd February for the Roma Caput Mundi Tournament, which will involve the national Colleges’ side face teams from other European countries.

The ECFA hope to arrange a fixture to be played at Nottingham Forest in March against an unconfirmed opponent, before facing the Welsh Colleges side in the return fixture in Wales on 11th April.

Stags’ coach Scott Rickards, who coaches the trio of youngsters, has spoken of his ‘immense pride’ at seeing them selected for the English Colleges side.

“It’s a massive achievement for the players themselves, but also for the squad and the staff who work with them every day,” Rickards said.

“They came to us when they were just 16-years-old and they were scared young lads with little experience. To see them develop into where they are today, along with the quality of their play and level of performance, is brilliant.

“It makes me so proud to see the lads selected for the squad, because when you look at the bigger picture, there are thousands of lads from across the country who would have been eligible to play for the England Colleges.

“Anyone who is involved in coaching wants to see their players achieve something and to put my name to these three boys makes me so proud,” Rickards continued.

“We put forward four boys in total, and the fourth lad only missed out because he was two weeks too old to be eligible to be included. In truth, I would have been comfortable putting forward any of the 10 or 12 boys I coach and be confident that they’d get selected.

“Their achievement also raises the profile of the club and Brooksby Melton College and hopefully we can continue developing players in years to come.”