Fleetwood’s 19-year-old defender James Hilll has endured a whirlwind few weeks having earned an England under-21 call-up not long after being watched by a scout from the Spanish giants
Fleetwood to Barcelona is hardly a well-trodden path.
But that could be the extraordinary route that defender James Hill takes, after it was revealed the Spanish giants are keeping tabs on him.
The centre-half, who was released early in his career by both Bolton and Blackpool, was handed his maiden England under-21 call-up last week by boss Lee Carsley after impressing for the Cod Army.
The 19-year-old has made 15 appearances for the League One outfit this term – and during one of those matches he was being closely monitored by Barca’s staff.
The Spanish side sent a scout to monitor his performance in a 1-0 loss at home to Burton Albion in mid-October.
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Whilst there is no suggestion that the troubled Spanish side will suddenly launch a January bid for Hill, it certainly bodes well for his development if such a side is taking time out to monitor his progress.
Speaking about the decision to hand Hill a surprise call-up for games against Czech Republic and Georgia later this month, England under-21 chief Lee Carsley said: “I thought it was the right time to bring him in with some of the issues we’ve had at centre-back.
“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.
“The feedback we got in the last camp with the under-20s on 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.”
Hill became Fleetwood’s youngest ever player when he made his debut at the age of just 16 in 2018.
One potential worry for Simon Grayson’s side is that Hill’s current contract expires at the end of this season.
Hill recently spoke about his international recognition after first getting the call to represent the under-20s.
He said: “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.
“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.”
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