Second-year scholar Scott Simons will spend the first weekend of December at the England Men’s Goalkeeper Development Camp at St George’s Park where he’ll rub shoulders with stoppers from across the game.
The camp runs for four days from Sunday 5 December, ruling the 18-year-old out of the away trip to Mansfield, and
Youth gaffer Mark Birch said: “This type of thing is a reward for his hard work and I’m sure he’ll enjoy it.
“It’s a great chance for him to look at how other keepers train, and how they act, and he should bring things away from it that he’ll be able to put into the way he trains with us.
“Opportunities like this are to be taken with both hands and we’ve told him to go there and listen, enjoy it, and put everything into it that he can.”
And first-team keeper coach Dan Hanford agreed that it’s a training package the young stopper can look forward to.
“This gives him the chance to work with players from clubs who are at higher levels and it also puts him in the minds of the England coaches, particularly if he does well,” he commented. “It’s a great thing for him to do because it gives him a different voice and another positive experience.
“The message to him from us is that his hard work over the past few months hasn’t gone unnoticed, not just by us but by the staff he’ll work with at the camp. We’ve sent them footage to watch and they’ve been impressed, and the way he’s handled himself here is what earned him the step-up to the first-team environment and the bench.
“I’ve told him that he needs to go to the camp and show that he’s confident in his own ability and that he deserves to be there. If he keeps doing what he’s been doing he’ll be more than fine, and the key thing is that he goes there to enjoy it.”
“Sessions like this give others the chance to see the potential he has so it’s a great opportunity for him,” he added. “I’ve seen a big change in him since around my second month with the club, because he’s settled into doing the job he knows he needs to do.
“He’s had a bit of a growth spurt and he’s been working hard with Greg Short and Jamie Roper in the gym. We don’t mind the little mistakes and mishaps that every keeper goes through, particularly the younger lads, because he’s constantly trying to do the right thing.
“On areas we highlight you can see he immediately tries to work on changing them for the better, and he likes to be challenged constantly because he wants to improve.
“Like I say, we’ve seen some mistakes as he’s trained with the first-team on a daily basis, but he’s working all the time at getting better.
“That’s a positive thing for us as his coaching staff to see, and it’s good to have somebody who has that mindset to work with.”
The initial reason for the switch from the under-18 environment to the first-team squad was the injuries picked up by Magnus Norman and Lukas Jensen, which ruled the pair out for an extended period of time.
“It’s been a crazy time,” Dan told us. “With it being my first job like this it’s been a bit of a case of being thrown in at the deep end with the change in manager and the first-choice keepers suffering bad injuries almost at the same time.
“We went from watching a genuine battle for the number one shirt to wondering what on earth we were going to do. Magnus stepped up and he was doing really well, then he got injured and it left an opportunity for Lukas.
“He had the away game at Bristol Rovers, which was a real baptism of fire with the result and the manager leaving, and we brought in Mark Howard at that point.
“We’d been looking at him for a while, he’s an experienced keeper, and we felt we needed that at the time. Keith has come in and he’s continued to work on the team being tight defensively, even though a few of the results haven’t gone our way.”
“The good thing is that we’ve seen better performances, and we can see that we’re all pulling together,” he continued. “There’ll be real competition between Magnus, Lukas and Mark, so we’re quite happy in that department.
“Everybody just wants us to push on, you can tell. When we scored late in the game on Saturday the reaction from the fans was superb.
“We took on some pressure at times, we kept the clean sheet, and I think that says a lot about what the team is working towards.
“We know as Carlisle fans ourselves that if we don’t get a positive result it feels awful. We don’t even like 0-0 results too much, because we want to win, and we definitely don’t like it when we might have played ok but we lose.
“After a defeat we find ourselves sitting in the dressing room feeling really down, and as coaching staff we start to nit-pick and look at the reasons why.
“On the flip side if you don’t get the best performance but you win, as was the case on Saturday, the whole city feels so much better. It brings an energy to the place.
“We have two cup games now, and we want to carry that on, and it’s just as important that we do it in the next league game as well. We have a really busy schedule and we want to come out of it with wins and points.”