We recently spoke to one of our promising Academy players, Tom Wooster, following his spell training with the Three Lions.
It’s not often you hear England international and Barnsley in the same breath, unless, of course, people refer to the fact that John Stones is a product of the Reds’ academy.
However, step forward Tom Wooster, who has been representing the Three Lions at U15 level and made his debut a fortnight ago.
The young goalkeeper had been training with the squad for four days and kept a clean sheet as England beat Notts County U16s in a friendly match.
“It was brilliant; I loved every minute of it,” said Wooster. “The players were brilliant, so I think I’ve taken a lot from it.
“I came off and couldn’t stop smiling, it was an amazing feeling. Compared to England they [Notts County U16s] weren’t as good, but I had to make one decent save so I was pleased with that.”
Wooster was in good company at the training camp, which was held at Loughborough rather than St George’s Park, with plenty of players from elite academies up and down the country in attendance.
Premier League sides Arsenal, Brighton, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur were amongst a few clubs represented at U15 level, but our young stopper wasn’t fazed by his peers from Category 1 set-ups.
“I think I was the only northerner there,” he laughed, “but there were lots of quality players there.
“The intensity of training is much higher and the players are probably better, but I think at Barnsley I can talk more because I know the lads and it’s easier to get on with the boys whereas with England they’re from different parts of the country and I don’t really know them.”
While with the national team, Wooster is coached by Lee Skyrme, who was once part of the backroom staff at Exeter City.
The 14-year-old believes that there are plenty of similarities between his training schedule at Oakwell and with England, insisting that the main focus is to be comfortable in possession.
“There’s a lad called Yilmaz who is my goalkeeper coach,” continued the young stopper. “He’s a great coach; his sessions are very enjoyable. He’s a top lad, always asking if I’m alright and talking to me.
“The sessions at Barnsley are quite similar because the core aspects are the same, like playing out from the back and being specific when you’re receiving. I think playing out from the back is one of my best attributes as well.”
There were no less than 12 goalkeepers in the training camp at Loughborough, split into three groups of four during sessions.
Wooster is confident that he impressed over the four days, asserting that the stresses of representing his country weren’t dissimilar to those of playing for the Reds.
“I think I held my own well and I was on a par if not better than them, so that’s a good thing,” he said.
“I don’t really feel the pressure. If anything, it’s exactly the same because Barnsley is my hometown club and I want to do well and win, but England is my country so it’s just the same. I feel proud playing for England, but even more for Barnsley.
“Every day I come in and see the first team players and think ‘wow’, but I should just think that they’re higher up than me.”
The Reds’ academy is blessed with a number of quality goalkeepers at all age categories. Jack Walton has gone onto make his first team debut, while Jake Greatorex and Henry Kendrick have both featured amongst Daniel Stendel’s substitutes.
Further down the age groups, Archie Brown and Harry Widdop are highly rated, and Wooster feels he can look up to the more senior pros as an example.
“I like watching them and the pathway to the first team,” admitted the Barnsley fan. “I like watching how they play and I can take a lot from that. I’m only in the U15s but I look at thinks and think I can do what they’ve done in the future.”