Young academy prospect Will Russ has received a call-up from Wales to play in a 2002 age group international friendly fixture against Gibraltar later this month.
Academy manager Mark Smith is delighted that the highly-rated young forward's potential has been recognised. “He’s somebody who we identified as being different from the norm, even when he first came in to the academy two seasons ago," said Smith.
“He’s a really good size and mature for his age. He’s U15 age, but we’ve been playing him up to the U16s since he was 14-years-old.
“We’ve already made him an offer in terms of a scholarship - which we don’t often do - and he’s accepted, which is brilliant for us.
“It’s another feather in the cap for the academy, but the main thing is that it’s well deserved. We think he’s got a lot of potential and hopefully this is just the start of even more international recognition."
Asked to pick out the 15-year-old player's attributes, Smith said: "He’s very athletic, with a good build for his age. He’s quick and aggressive and he has a sort of old-fashioned centre-forward about him.
“Our aim this season is for him to play every game with the U16s, to aid his own personal development."
Russ, who hails from Derby, has already caught the attention of senior figures at the club. “The gaffer knows about him already, as well as Guy Branston," Smith revealed.
"They’ve both seen him a couple of times, so I think they know that he’s a little bit special.
“The call-up will improve his confidence. If he has any doubts about himself then it should make him more confident.
“It gives him and his family recognition, and he’ll probably be targeted in games and scouts will talk about him.
“We’ve already had a few enquiries and getting a call up for Wales will alert more scouts to him, but we don’t want to lose him. He had a week at Liverpool last season and they said he was a different class. He came out on top in all of their testing."
A number of academy graduates have made the step up to the first team over the last 12 months or so and Smith believes Russ could follow in their footsteps - if he isn't snapped up before then.
“He needs a little bit of work technically, but we think he has the potential to play in our first team. However, football is moving so rapidly now in terms of signings that it isn’t unheard of for a 14/15-year-old to be signed by one of the bigger clubs for future development.
“It’s a testament to the hard work that goes into the academy. When he first came in, he was nowhere near the finished article - and he’s certainly not now - but a lot of work has gone into him behind the scenes, not just in terms of technical ability, but the psychological side as well.
“That all takes time, and we’ve got a good set of coaches who know when to push him and when to step back off him. We’re generating some decent players, with all the first-team debuts we had last season and hopefully more to come.
“Now, we might start looking down the line at some quality players to come through. Players like Danny Bramall, who moved to Everton a couple of years ago, show that clubs like Chesterfield can produce players.”