Mansfield Town’s young striker Zayn Hakeem has won double praise from within the club as he prepares to join the Antigua and Barbuda Under-20 squad for World Cup qualifiers for the rest of the month.
Hakeem, who will fly out to the Caribbean on Wednesday, is in the squad to face Curacao, St Kitts and Nevis, and Bermuda after continiung his impressive form from last season.
The 17-year-old has scored four league goals for the Stags’ youth team, who are top of EFL Youth Alliance North East Division, and also played for the first team as a substitute against Blackburn Rovers in the EFL Cup.
Manager Adam Murray said the striker’s call-up was well deserved, while central defender Krystian Pearce said the teenager would learn a great deal from his international experience.
“I am sure he is buzzing to get that international recognition and I hope he takes it in his stride and kicks on from there,” said Pearce.
“There are a lot of different aspects in terms of off the field and what you have to do in preparing for games, plus the media training.
“So there’s a lot that goes with it.
“You don’t realise how much travelling can take out of your body. It will be good for him to learn about his body and how he adapts to that.
“He has got all the attributes needed to be a top striker. Hopefully he can knuckle down and keep working hard and everything will fall into place with him.”