Morgan Whittaker scored a hat-trick for England’s Under 16s as they defeated China 4-0 in their final group stage fixture of the Montaigu Tournament in France.The exciting Derby County forward featured in all three of the Three Lions group games – initially featuring as a substitute in the opening 1-1 draw with Mexico, before making his first start in the 3-0 defeat to Portugal and then notching a treble in the comfortable victory over China.
Justin Walker, Derby’s professional development phase coach, headed out to France to watch Whittaker in action and told dcfc.co.uk: “It is a good level to be playing at and Morgan really has done himself proud.
“What was more important for me was that he looked physically and mentally capable at that level – it was great to see.
“I think when players go away with their country, sometimes it can feel restricted in terms of what they natural attributes are.
“With Morgan scoring a hat-trick, that’s proof that he’s playing his natural game! We’re all delighted for him.”
Elsewhere across the Academy, Derby’s Under 15s recently secured their place in the Northern Final of the Premier League Floodlit Cup.
After topping their group, which also contained Aston Villa, Leicester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers, Adam Thorley’s side defeated Rochdale 2-0 in the quarter-finals and then Sunderland 3-2 in the semis.
They will face Manchester City at Pride Park Stadium on Sunday 7th May for the right to play in the overall final, where they could face either Arsenal or Fulham.
Speaking on the achievement, Thorley said: “The Floodlit Cup has been a tremendous learning experience for the group of players.
“All of the fixtures are played midweek and under lights which creates a unique environment for them along with the added pressure of it being a cup competition." “It’s a fantastic achievement for the group of players who have shown real courage, resilience and character to reach the final.
“It’s a real exciting group with lots of potential and they have shown their capabilities throughout the competition, and thoroughly deserve their place in the final at Pride Park Stadium.”
On top of that, Derby’s Under 15s also reached the final of the Yellow Cup – a European competition, which is held by Spanish outfit Villarreal.
John Barton, the Rams’ academy operations manager, was in attendance at the tournament and said: “We’re incredibly proud of our Under 15s, who recently got through to the area final of the Floodlit Cup.
"They have done really well recently. There is a good bunch of players in the Under 15s and they have backed that up by getting to the final of the Yellow Cup out in Villarreal, which is quite a prestigious youth tournament in Europe.
“They were beaten 1-0 by Villarreal and there was a feeling of injustice about but, as a whole experience for those young players, though, it couldn’t have gone any better. They all represented the club in a strong light.
“We make a commitment to all of our youth squads, through the EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan) requirements, that they will all go abroad to get a taste of international football.
“We’re all about developing players here and these types of experiences are invaluable to that.”
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