Portadown Youth players have attracted cross-channel interest and international recognition in the latest forward step for the grassroots development plan.
Barney McKeown and Alberto Balde - players, respectively, from last season’s under 14s and under 13s - recently received an invitation to spend the summer break with Everton.
McKeown will return home to compete for Northern Ireland Schoolboys in the Hibernia Trophy alongside club colleagues Jack Conlon and Callum Ferris.
The youth tournament will feature a Republic of Ireland development squad, Sunderland, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Nottingham Forest, Norwich City, St Joseph’s Boys and Glasgow Celtic alongside the under 15s’ Elite squad.
Jacob Collins recently made his Club NI debut in the Galway Cup.
Additional evidence of Portadown Youth’s growing influence arrived with strong numbers across the two County Armagh panels for the Milk Cup.
“It is exciting for everyone connected to Portadown Youth,” said Jeff Kerr, chairman of Portadown Youth. “These rewards give everyone a lift, especially the boys for working so hard and the coaching staff.
“I believe Alberto scored two goals and set up six for Everton under 14s against Preston North End.
“Barney is playing for Everton’s under 16s and will travel back after the Hibernia Trophy to take part in a tournament in Poland.
“We are dedicated to giving every player the best possible opportunity to develop and progress.
“The progress of those players invited over to Everton or selected for Northern Ireland can only have a positive impact on the club’s reputation.
“We have made significant strides in the past number of seasons and it all comes down to helping players maximise potential.
“We will continue to work hard across the club to present players with the right platform at each stage of development.”
For further information visit the Portadown FC Youth page on Facebook or follow the club’s Twitter account.