By Martin Walker
Newtonian Jason Steele today joined up with Stuart Pearce’s England Under-21 squad ahead of their play-off double header against Serbia.
And the in-form Middlesbrough goalkeeper says there’s “no better feeling” than being involved with your national team.
Steele put in another man-of-the-match performance for Tony Mowbray’s side in their 2-1 win at Watford at the weekend, before overseeing his Newton Aycliffe WMC side’s 2-1 win at home to Huntsman in the Heart Foundation Cup on Sunday.
The 22-year-old keeper joined up with the England U-21 squad today as Pearce prepares his side for a European Championship play-off against Serbia – the first leg is at Norwich City’s Carrow Road on Friday night, with the return away leg next week.
In an interview with Aycliffe Today, Steele said: “I don’t know much about Serbia, but it’ll be a hard game. We’re going to have to play well on Friday and hopefully take a lead to Serbia next week.
“It’s a welcome break sometimes. There’s a few tired bodies and tired minds, you come back a little bit refreshed.
“When you’ve been away with your country there’s no better feeling, so I’m really looking forward to it.
“I was involved in the last Championships in Denmark, it’s in Israel next summer and obviously I’d love to be involved again.”
Boro climbed back up to 11th in the Championship table – and to within a point of the play-offs – with Saturday’s win, despite going a goal down early on.
“In the end it was a good result. Probably not our best performance of the season, but it’s the result that matters,” added Steele.
“It was good to get a win after a couple of disappointing home games during the week.
“I think we needed it and we needed a bit of luck. A couple of goals have gone against us with a few poor decisions recently, we needed a slice of luck and I think we got that on Saturday and maybe it was just deserved because we’ve been knocking on the door and trying our hearts out for the last couple of weeks.”
“I said at the start of the season we’ll have to be consistent to get out of the league, and that’s exactly what we haven’t been, but if we can keep picking up points we’ll be there or thereabouts.
“We’re not far off the likes of Leicester, they came to the Riverside and beat us and maybe wasn’t deserved, we’ve just got to stay in touch.”
Meanwhile, Steele took over the reins at Aycliffe Big Club, who play in the Durham Sunday League, a year ago.
He’s now preparing them for their first-ever FA Carlsberg Sunday Cup game at home to Winlaton Commercial on Sunday 21st October (10.30am kick-off), to be played at Newton Aycliffe FC’s Moore Lane Park ground, with admission just £2.