Harry Whitwell enjoying ‘step up’ ahead of Carrow Road trip

Harry Whitwell celebrates goal in the PL Cup

England youth international Harry Whitwell is excited to experience another first-team stadium when Albion’s PL2 side face Norwich City at Carrow Road on Friday night (ko 7pm).

The promising youngster, just 16, has played every league game in a higher age group with the U21s this season, having initially joined Leigh Downing’s U18s in the summer after signing scholarship terms.

It’s been a progressive season for the academy star thus far with success at The Hawthorns and on the international stage too, helping England’s U17s lift the Costa Cálida Supercup in Spain during the September international break.

Despite suffering defeat in the Premier League Cup against Middlesbrough last time out, the PL2 team are undefeated in their last four league matches, and central midfielder Whitwell is keen to extend that to five when the young Baggies make the long trip to East Anglia.

“There’s been a real focus to training since Monday because everyone’s focused on putting it right on Friday,” said the youngster.

“Playing at Carrow Road will be a really good experience for me. I’ve played at The Hawthorns and Villa Park, but playing at Norwich’s ground will be another good test.

“It’s totally different playing at stadiums. It’s second to none how good the pitches are and it helps us play good football which we’re always trying to do when we step out there.

Harry Whitwell in action at Villa Park. Credit: GEvans Photography

“When I got the call-up for England during the last international break I was over the moon. To get out to Alicante and play with some of the best players in the country, and against the best internationally was a really good test.

“The experience to win the cup was even better and I think it’s helped me get used to playing at U21s level. You’ve got to be physically ready and tactically switched on because if you switch off for a moment, you’ll be punished.

“I’ve got used to that and it’s stood me in good stead to make the step up into the 21s this year.

“Physically, it’s been a lot more demanding and technically, you’ve got to be a lot quicker on the ball. But the main difference I’ve found compared with U18s football is the distances you have to cover and how intense it has to be.

Whitwell celebrates scoring his first goal for the PL2 side. Credit: GEvans Photography

“I’m still working on being in the right positions and I’m really enjoying my football at the moment.

"We always trying and play out with the ball but if we have to go long, we land on the seconds and build from there. The coaches are constantly telling us to get on the ball, switch the play, make forward runs, combination play in and around the box.

“All this helps us because it stops the opposition having a foothold in the game and we’re always looking to apply pressure.

“All the boys have been really welcoming. They get around you and make you feel part of the team, and to experience Carrow Road together on Friday will help us continue to form relationships and getting three points to top it off is all we want."

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