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JK surprise at England call

ACCRINGTON goalkeeper Jon Kennedy admitted he was stunned at being called-up to the England XI to face Italy's Under 23s at Telford United on Wednesday 11 February.

THREE LIONS... For Jon Kennedy
THREE LIONS... For Jon Kennedy

ACCRINGTON goalkeeper Jon Kennedy admitted he was stunned at being called-up to the England XI to face Italy's Under 23s at Telford United on Wednesday 11 February.

Kennedy and captain Peter Cavanagh have both received the nod from England National Game XI manager Paul Fairclough for the 16-man squad.

And there could have been a third Stanley player among them as it's thought Andy Procter only missed out because he is injured.

It is Cavanagh's second cap after becoming the first modern day Stanley player to be picked for international duty last November in England's 2-2 draw with Belgium Under 20s.

But Kennedy admitted it was a big shock for him - especially as it is such a battle to get into Stanley's first team with him and Jamie Speare fighting for the number one spot. He is up against Exeter goalie James Bittner for the England slot.

"I am surprised. I came close to an England call-up when I was at Worskop but I was only 18 and I was going to be the third choice keeper to get some experience," said the 23-year-old. "I was pleased because I was in the UniBond League and it didn't often happen but I signed for Sunderland and it never materialised.

"I remember I was disappointed to miss out then so this more than makes up for it. My priorities have always been Accrington Stanley this season and this is just an extra boost."

Kennedy has been the centre of attention in a number of Stanley games this season - for the right and wrong reasons.

He was the regular in the Reds first team until the Telford game when Stanley lost 5-1.

"That was just one of those games. If a striker misses five chances and we win 1-0 it is forgotten but a keeper's mistakes - they are remembered. I just couldn't do anything right. If you make a mistake when you're a goalie it usually ends up with a goal - it goes with the territory."

He admitted he was also mystified when he was called into the goal after almost 120 minutes for the Bournemouth penalty shoot-out which Stanley won in the FA Cup third round.

"I have never known goalkeepers being swapped before so I wasn't expecting it. I suppose some people thought I had nothing to lose but if I had done anything wrong it would have been remembered. As it was we won and it was all forgotten. It was a good night."

Kennedy has played the last four games and has done well - pulling off two great saves in the 1-1 draw with Burton on Saturday in the Conference. But he knows he has got to be at his best if he is to be number one choice for Stanley.

"Everytime I start I know I have to play well. No one likes sitting on the bench so when my chances have come I have had to try and seize them.

"But, playing or not, I am enjoying it here. It is an ambitious club which is one of the reasons I joined at the start of the season. I think we have been more successful than we ever thought we would be and that has now raised the expectations.

"The main thing for us though was safety - and we are safe now. The bottom club Northwich are on 12 points, with those just above in their 20s and we are well clear of all that. We are out of the FA Cup and FA Trophy and the full focus is on the play-offs."

Kennedy is looking forward to going back to full-time training with the Reds in July after moving from non-league to Sunderland but switching back to part-time football with Stanley in the summer.

"They always said when I joined that they were aiming to go full-time and I think people will see a difference in us next season as a full-time club," said Kennedy, who works part-time moving machinery.

"It is a different kind of tiredness when you go to work during the week and play Saturdays and train twice a week than when you train full-time. We will be a lot sharper and should be stronger mentally."

Manager John Coleman said: "I am delighted for both of them. It is a just reward for them. Jon has had to keep Jamo at bay once again and I am sure if Jamo gets back in the team Jon will have to do well to get back in again - it is what I wanted.

"Cav has been steady but has been unfortunate with yellow cards. He needs to temper that but sometimes there is nothing you can do."

  • STEVE Lowe will be running a coach to the England match (ko 7.45pm). Seats cost £12, admission to the match is free. Call 07775 704072 for further details.


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