AFC Fylde’s James Hardy has received a massive boost ahead of Saturday’s home clash with Harrogate Town in Vanarama National League North.
The midfielder is getting ready for an England bow.
He has been named in manager Paul Fairclough’s England C squad to take on Estonia Under-23s in Tallinn on November 15.
Hardy is one of only two players in the squad from outside the top-flight of the National League.
His selection is testimony to the fine form he has shown this season in helping the Coasters to top spot, four points clear of their nearest pursuers.
Hardy had a spell on Manchester City’s books before linking up successfully with the Coasters last season.
Coasters manager Dave Challinor says it is no more than Hardy has deserved.
He told The Gazette: “It will be a great experience for James. He has worked hard for it, not just this season but since he first signed for us.
“The thing about James is that there is a lot more to come from him as he is learning the whole time.
“I am sure other clubs from higher up have been watching him but we are in a position where we don’t need to sell him. He is playing for an ambitious club, who are top of the table.”
Hardy has been nursing a hamstring strain but has been given a clean bill of health for the visit of promotion rivals Harrogate.
The Yorkshire club reached the play-off semi-finals last season, losing to Fylde over two legs.
Challinor said: “We are unbeaten so far this season and we want to continue that run. It is important to beat your close rivals to increase the gap on them.”
England C squad: Nick Arnold (Aldershot Town), Luke Coulson (Eastleigh), Joel Dixon (Barrow), Morgan Ferrier (Boreham Wood), Jake Gallagher (Aldershot Town), Sam Habergham (Lincoln City), James Hardy (AFC Fylde), Oliver Hawkins (Dagenham and Redbridge), Ethan Pinnock (Forest Green Rovers), Sean Raggett (Lincoln City), Matthew Robinson (Dagenham and Redbridge), Grant Smith (Boreham Wood), Elliot Whitehouse (Nuneaton Town), Jordan Williams (Barrow), Daniel Wishart (Forest Green Rovers), Alex Woodyard (Lincoln City)
n AFC Fylde’s youngsters are out of the FA Youth Cup.
They lost 4-1 at The Shay at the hands of Halifax Town, who paved the way for victory with two goals in less than a minute.
They scored two more before half-time to set up an unassailable 4-0 advantage.
Alex Ashby replied with 25 minutes left of the third qualifying round tie. Coasters put pressure on the Halifax defence in the second half but the home side held firm, booking a place in round one.