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Barcelona Monitoring Young EFL Star After First England U21 Call-Up

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Barcelona Monitoring Young EFL Star After First England U21 Call-Up

Barcelona are reportedly monitoring Fleetwood Town defender James Hill, after sending a scout to watch him play against Burton Albion in October.

The 19-year-old has impressed for the Cod Army this season after making 15 appearances across all competitions to date, and seen his form rewarded following a first call-up to the England under-21s.

"I thought it was the right time to bring him in with some of the issues we've had at centre-back." said England under-21 coach Lee Carsley, in quotes published by The Mirror.

"If you look at our pathway in general, we get a lot of centre-backs from Category One academies. It's very rare that we have players so young at centre-back in their first team getting tested every week against senior players.

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"The feedback we got on him in the last camp with the under-20s, was that he was the model professional.

"Watching him play against Wycombe recently was a big test, up against Adebayo Akinfenwa and Sam Vokes.

"Every corner was a physical test for him but he coped really well. He's deserved the opportunity to come and train with us and potentially put himself in consideration."

PA: James Hill tackles Sam Surridge.
PA: James Hill tackles Sam Surridge.
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Hill has spent all of his fledgling career in the north west following spells with Bolton Wanderers and Blackpool, but is now finding his feet under Simon Grayson's tutelage.

He also holds the record of being Fleetwood's youngest-ever player after making his debut aged just 16 in a 4-0 Carabao Cup defeat to Leicester City in August 2018.

His contract at Highbury expires next June, meaning the highly-rated youngster can talk to prospective new clubs in January.

There is no indication that Barca will make an official approach for Hill, but there is bound to be interest in one of the English Football League's brightest defensive prospects.

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PA: James Hill in action for England under-20s
PA: James Hill in action for England under-20s

Hill spoke about how well suited he is to playing more of a technical game, as opposed to the more physical nature of League One football.

"Obviously when you go away with England it's a very technical game, there are a lot of talented boys.

"When you're in League One, it's physically demanding and a different style of play. A lot of the ball is on the deck with England and with my club it is a different challenge, more of an aerial battle.

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That has helped me because I have the understanding of when to play and when not to play. If it can't be a pass then it has to go long, over the top. It's easier for me to adapt to their [England's] football than the other way around."

Topics: Barcelona, League One, England, La Liga

James Hilsum
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