Duo receive England call-up

IPSWICH Town can expect to see a number of Premier League scouts at the remainder of their matches this season after two of their young prospects were called up to the England junior set-up.

Stuart Watson

IPSWICH Town can expect to see a number of Premier League scouts at the remainder of their matches this season after two of their young prospects were called up to the England junior set-up.

That's the Tractor Girls rather than the Tractor Boys if you were beginning to wonder.

Ipswich Town Women's Football Club - an entirely independent entity to ITFC - won the third tier of the women's game last season and are currently fighting to stay in the women's version of the Championship.

And the future looks bright for the club as earlier this month 18-year-old defender Krystal Monaghan and 17-year-old midfielder Beth Lyles were both selected for the British Colleges Sports Women's England squad.

It is the equivalent of the England Under-18 squad in the men's game and means that the girls - both of whom are studying National Diplomas in Sport at Suffolk New College - will now be carefully watched by Premier League and senior England scouts over 2009.

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Monaghan, a versatile defender who can play anywhere along the backline, was selected for Ipswich's Girls' Centre of Excellence at the age of 12 and just three years later was handed her first team debut.

The former Stoke High School pupil did transfer to Colchester United, but returned to her home town club this year following some trials at Crystal Palace.

This is Monaghan's second year in the British Colleges squad and she is excited by the opportunities it might bring.

“My main ambition is to become a professional footballer,” said Monaghan. “England Colleges didn't play that many games last season, but we've been told there will be a lot more fixtures this time

“There should be a few scouts at the games and I would love to get spotted by the likes of an Arsenal or an Everton.”

Lyles, who has been in Ipswich's Centre of Excellence since the age of 10, also made her first team d�but at the age of 15. She said: “This is a great opportunity. There will be England scouts at most of our games, while clubs like Everton are rumoured to watch the England Colleges games.”

Should Monaghan and Lyles continue to play for an English club, the most likely route they could take towards the full England side would be to first play for the British Universities Women's team (equivalent to the England U21s).

However, their other option is to go to America where they could train on a university scholarship.

The duo were chosen for the British Colleges squad following a long selection process. After successful trials in Milton Keynes and Birmingham, the pair travelled to the Lilleshall Football Academy in Leicester for an intensive three-day training camp where they made the final cut from 33 to 22.

The squad's full fixture list is to be announced, however, already it has been confirmed that they will travel to Spain in May, while last season they played the likes of Wales and Australia.

In the meantime they will continue to represent Suffolk New College who are currently second in the Eastern British Colleges League.

The girls' side was first set-up by Rob Bird in October 2006 and since then the team has grown in standard and size season-by-season. This year has been the first time the girls have worked alongside the male players signed up to the college's football academy (SETEC).

Bird, who had previously spent a great deal of time coaching the women's game in America, said: “The girls programme is becoming a lot more like the boys academy. The girls train three times a week and play on a Wednesday.

“I knew from my experience in America how good the girls game can be and I think the standard is rising all the time here in Britain. The England women's team are doing well and spectatorship for the women's game is up.”

Suffolk New College will play a friendly match against an Arsenal Ladies side in May. The Premier League club will use the fixture to blood new signings and some of their younger players, while for the Suffolk New College players it is another chance to put themselves in the shop window.