Justin hopes first team experience gives him the edge with England
Hatters full back James Justin is hoping his extra first team experience could give him a slight advantage when England name their squad for the Euro U19 Finals in Georgia this week.
Although Justin remains only one of two players outside of the Championship involved in the squad, he made the most first team appearances out of any of those selected last season, playing 39 times, with only Fulham’s Ryan Sessegnon coming close, as he was involved 30 times for the Cottagers.
When asked if he thought it might count in his favour, Justin said: “I think so. When I tell them how many games I’ve played, they’re like ‘oh, really’, that’s loads.
“They couldn’t have wished for that many games, so I think it does give me an advantage, but obviously, it’s not the same type of football you see that I’ve been playing, so I’ve had to adjust my game a bit.”
Although one of only two new players in Keith Downing’s squad that travelled out to Spain recently, Justin has done more than enough to impress, being called into the two following squads since, including one at St George’s Park this weekend.
He admitted it was a strange moment walking in and meeting up players like West Ham’s Reece Oxford, that he had only seen on the TV before.
Justin continued: “There were a few nerves, but a few nerves are healthy, I knew a few of them, but I got to know quite a few of the guys, and they're quite easy to get along with it.
“I watched a lot of youth football anyway, so most of the names I knew straight off the top of my head. So it was kind of weird to meet them as they’re at big clubs and I’m in League Two at the moment.”
The fact that Justin has been selected despite playing in the fourth tier of English football wasn’t lost on him either, as he said: “It’s a great achievement for me personally and just shows if you’re good enough you’ll get selected and get recognised.
“Keith Downing said the first time he watched me was the Villa match, when I was playing against an England winger who was my age as well, and then he kept a tab on me from there.”
Meanwhile, Justin also conceded that when receiving his first call-up to the camp out in Murcia, he wasn’t quite sure if it had been a hoax by his club manager.
He added: “I was really surprised. I was due to go on holiday a few days before the camp and had to cancel my holiday, so I didn’t know it was coming at all.
“The gaffer, Nathan Jones, just rung me out of the blue pretty much. He told me about it and I was just delighted, I spoke with Keith Downing and just went from there.
“I was thinking, because the gaffer he’s quite calm in everything he says, you can’t really tell if he’s joking or not. So I was stuck between two, as in is he joking? Or is he being serious?
"But he was being serious and I was just delighted to get the call.”