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‘Chunky’ Lewis gets Three Lions call-up

By Doug O'Kane, Sports Editor Friday 25th April 2014
Lewis Wardle.

The FA staff at St George's will know the latest Barnsley academy player to be called up to an England side as Lewis Wardle but at Oakwell he is only called his nickname 'Chunky'.


"It's because of what I looked like when I was a baby," said the 15-year-old from Wombwell. "My family call me Chunky and everyone at the club does as well. I prefer it to Lewis."


Wardle has been selected for an England under 15s training camp at Burton from Thursday. "I am really looking forward to it but it's not something I expected," he said. "I didn't think I would get the chance because Barnsley is not one of the biggest clubs like Manchester United or Liverpool."


It may not have been as much of a surprise to the Oakwell academy staff, who have seen several of their players get international call-ups in the last few years. John Stones, before he moved to Everton, and Paul Digby have both played for England at various youth levels while Erico Sousa recently represented Portugal under 19s.


"Our players are being constantly watched by FA scouts," said academy manager Ronnie Branson. "We don't develop players for England, we develop them for Barnsley Football Club.  But of course it is a bonus if they get an international call-up and it's a great experience for the players. Chunky has been with us since he was nine. He's a cracking lad and a real talent."


Wardle – who has been offered a scholarship at Barnsley despite still having a year left at Netherwood School – is the latest young Red to be tied down to a long-term deal earlier than usual after 16-year-old James Bree signed a professional contract until 2017 in February.