It is most young English footballers’ dream to be called up to train with the national squad for the first time – but occasionally it happens much earlier than you might realise.
Young players are sometimes called up to get an early taste of what it’s like to be a part of the senior set-up, with Burnley forward Dwight McNeil the latest player to be invited to train with Gareth Southgate’s squad after making an impression in the Premier League this season.
And we’ve taken a look at seven players to have previously fulfilled the role – none of which have gone on to actually win a senior cap.
Barnsley fans thought they had a star on their hands when Digby trained with England’s senior squad as a teenager in 2014.
Capable of appearing at centre-back or central midfield, Digby came through the youth ranks at Oakwell alongside current England international John Stones.
Reflecting on the sessions in 2016, Digby said: “It was an unbelievable experience, so inspiring. I was up against Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck, it was an amazing experience just seeing how the best in the country do it.”
But a troublesome hip injury has led to a host of fitness issues over the intervening seasons, and Digby, now 24, currently turns out for Forest Green in League Two.
Just seen Paul Digby is have a knock about with the England squad today.
Nice one, lad. Give Rooney a scutch and suggest goalie when.
— West Stand Bogs (@WestStandBogs) September 5, 2014
A player who will still hold aspirations of playing for England’s senior side, Nketiah stepped up from the Under-20s to train with Southgate’s squad following their successful World Cup campaign.
Injuries to Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana opened the door for the 19-year-old, who burst onto the scene with a two-goal cameo for Arsenal in the League Cup last season but has only made five appearances for the first team this term.
Tavernier was invited at the same time as Nketiah having spent the previous season on an injury-disrupted loan spell at MK Dons.
Still only 19, the winger has been a member of Middlesbrough’s first team this term, scoring three times in 14 Championship outings, albeit with only two of those appearances coming from the start.
In December, the Daily Mail reported that Manchester United are keeping an eye on Tavernier’s development.
Another Middlesbrough product, Fry has long been thought of as a hot prospect on Teesside but has only truly come to the fore this season, appearing 31 times in all competitions as Tony Pulis’ side chase promotion from the Championship.
While on loan at Rotherham as an 18-year-old in 2016, Fry briefly made the step up from England’s Under-20s.
“It came as a total surprise and was amazing,” he told The Sun.
“It was great to be training alongside fantastic players like Wayne Rooney, and with Gareth as the manager too – he was one of my heroes growing up as a Boro fan.”
Dael Fry in 2018/19 so far:
12 Key Passes
— boropolis (@boropolis) March 4, 2019
We’re kind of sad Davies hasn’t continued the progression he threatened when he first broke into the Everton team, looking cool, listening to good music and being dubbed the Ketwig Kaiser.
The midfielder trained with England under Roy Hodgson as a 17-year-old, before he had actually made his first-team debut for the Toffees.
In 2018, he was nominated for the European Golden Boy award, but his progress has stalled over the past campaign.
— England (@England) October 7, 2015
It’s at this point we have to admit we’ve never actually heard of Moore, who was on the books at Arsenal when he trained under Sam Allardyce(!) with England’s senior squad.
After loan spells in Holland and League Two, the defender made a permanent switch to League One outfit Plymouth Argyle in the summer.
It doesn’t seem like it’s gone too well, given he hasn’t played since November and weirdos are doing this at the darts.
— Gavin Pearse (@gavin_pearse) December 17, 2018
Despite spending the season on loan at Championship strugglers Ipswich from Chelsea, Chalobah is clearly highly thought of by Southgate – who also loves the 19-year-old’s older brother, Nathaniel.
The duo trained together with England ahead of the World Cup in the summer, and Trevoh linked up again with the squad in September.
With the defender set to return to Chelsea in the summer, he will be hoping he can be one of the army of loan players to be given a chance at Stamford Bridge next season given their transfer ban.