Colchester United trial for AFC Sudbury goalkeeper Josh Blunkell comes ahead of England Colleges FA squad selection news
It has been a whirlwind couple of months for AFC Sudbury’s teenage goalkeeper Josh Blunkell – and he is hoping it is about to become life-changing for his chosen career.
For not only has the Halstead-based shot-stopper learned of his place in a 24-man England Colleges FA Men’s National Team, but it came as he is in the middle of a trial with Colchester United.
The 18-year-old AFC Sudbury Academy third-year scholar was thrust into the limelight when an injury to James Askew saw him start in the Emirates FA Cup tie at home to Cheshunt on October 2.
A clean sheet in a 1-0 victory – only his second senior appearance – saw him keep the shirt for the visit of Dartford in the fourth qualifying round on October 16. He then went on to shine as the Yellows pulled off one of the greatest victories in their history, knocking out the National League South leaders with a 3-1 win.
He drew further plaudits in the home televised first round proper tie with Colchester on November 5, despite a 4-0 defeat.
And now he is hoping to grab his chance to break into the professional ranks with the Sky Bet League Two club.
“It’s all happened really quickly but it is all positive things and hopefully there are more to come as well,” said the former Halstead Town youth player.
“I started at Colchester last Tuesday and I’ve had a couple of sessions with the first team and I’m really enjoying it.
“I played against Pro Direct Academy Under-23s on the Friday (at Florence Park) and thought I did really well. The U23s’ managers were really happy.
“I had a rest at the weekend ahead of going back in tomorrow (Tuesday) until Saturday.”
Asked how it came about, Blunkell, who is on AFC’s personal trainer course, said: “I think it was from the game with their goalkeeper coach having a word with Danny Potter (Sudbury ‘keeper coach) after.
“He told me they would like to have a look at me if I came in.”
It was on Saturday, while he was working at Braintree Leisure Centre, that he found out his trial process with the England Colleges FA had been successful.
“I got an email come through from the coach Ian Barber congratulating me,” said the former Ramsey Academy pupil.
Blunkell first impressed selectors in last month at Oaklands College’s St Albans Campus before shining once again in the final trial in Newcastle-under-Lyme the weekend before last.
He said: “I played in two games and kept two clean sheets which was obviously good.
“I worked really hard to get picked and it is a really proud thing for both my family and myself.”
He is one of three goalkeepers included in the squad ahead of a three-day training camp at St George’s Park from December 14. It sees him become the third AFC Sudbury pupil to gain England Colleges FA selection.
Academy director Danny Laws said: “We are delighted, we have had Freddie King then Amber Provan last year and now we have our first goalkeeper.
He added: “We sent four girls and four boys and only one made it all the way which shows how difficult it is.”