Adam Johnson is hoping to build on his fine form for Middlesbrough at Northampton tonight.
England U19s v Slovakia U19s
7.00pm, Tuesday 28 February 2006
Northampton Town FC
There are some players who wait their entire career and never come up against illustrious opponents in foreign stadiums; and there are some, like Middlesbrough's Adam Johnson, who get all their blessings at once.
The dynamic winger, yet another off the Teesiders production line of homegrown talent, made his club debut away to Sporting Lisbon at the end of last season.
He has added to his European experience this season with appearances in the UEFA Cup, including a substitute role in Boro's recent aggregrate victory over Stuttgart. Johnson will now be looking to take that experience into the international arena.
He told TheFA.com: "Playing in the Premiership really helps you adapt to the England setup, training with senior players stands you in good stead for the obstacles you face in international games.
"Getting close to the experienced players makes you want it more, when you see what they have achieved it just makes you want to progress and try to become the best player you can.
"There are a lot of games left to play this season what with The FA Cup and Europe, so hopefully I can get more chances to play, it should be good and hopefully we've got a chance of winning something.
"Staying up is our main aim and we have got it together in the last few weeks and hopefully it can continue. There have been some great highs against the bigger clubs but then struggled against the smaller teams, I'm not sure why but we seem to have put that behind us now."
With Boro firing on all fronts domestically and a dream tie with Roma awaiting them, Adam is hoping to bring that kind of enthusiasm to the England fold when they take on Slovakia at Northampton.
"It is a different experience coming away with your country and I really enjoy it," Adam added. "We do the same kind of work every time we come away with England, we work on the attack and defence and I think we are an attacking team, we like to go form.
"In the last game against Switzerland we played really well but just found it tough to score. Luckily we got two late goals and we got the win we deserved, I think it was one of the best games I've played for England so far so it was really pleasing."
Adam has also fond memories of his debut for England: "I made my debut for at U19 level at Darlington so it was really close to where I live, all my family came to the game as well as all the coaches from Middlesbrough so I really wanted to put in a good performance for everyone.
"I think I played well that night, it is a great honour to play for England you have to give it everything, hearing the national anthem in the lineup is a special feeling that you can't really describe, it's just brilliant."
England U19s Head Coach Martin Hunter told TheFA.com ahead of the game: "We are going to continue the work we have done in previous games in terms of the preparations at the opposite ends of the pitch.
"A clean sheet tonight will be important and also to improve upon the number of times we get into the opponents final third and improve our passing and finishing when we get there.
"It's a marvellous incentive for the players if they can get into the top three in The European Championship Tournament then they will qualify for the World Championships in 2007 in China.
"There are two massive hurdles before we get there though, the first is the elite round where we face the host nation in Belgium. And if we get through that we must perform in the finals, but in terms of an incentive for the squad it is fantastic."
Stay tuned to TheFA.com for a match report of tonight's game and video highlights tomorrow morning.