Grimsby Town's Aswad Thomas and Andi Thanoj to go head-to-head on international stage
TWO Grimsby Town team-mates – and house mates – are preparing to go head-to-head on the international stage later this month.
Aswad Thomas and Andi Thanoj are set to face off on October 16 when the England C non-league select side takes on Albania Under-21s in a friendly match in the coastal city of Durres.
For Thomas, it will be his second cap for Paul Fairclough's side, but for Thanoj, whose call-up was only confirmed this week, it will be his first taste of representing the country of his birth.
The 19-year-old was born in Albania's capital city of Tirana and moved to England as a child before joining the Mariners as a first-year trainee just three years ago.
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It has been a rapid rise for the young midfielder who, after establishing himself as a senior pro, signed a new two-year deal at Blundell Park in May.
Thanoj has previously spoken of his desire to represent his native Albania and, after receiving confirmation of his selection this week, he now can't wait to finally make his bow.
"I'm absolutely buzzing," he said. "The Under-21 coach has been up to see me a couple of times but obviously I haven't been playing that much.
"So I sent him a few DVDs of last season and they said they liked what they saw.
"I had an idea that I was going to get the call for a week or so, but I wasn't taking anything for granted until it was confirmed officially.
"I was born in Albania and moved to England when I was six so it's a real honour to represent the country where I was born.
"It will be a very proud moment for both me and my family. International football will be a great experience for me.
"Hopefully I can play a part in the game and then kick on from there."
Thanoj and Thomas share a house with Mariners' centre-half Shaun Pearson and frontman Andy Cook.
Thanoj admits that it's a competitive household and says he can't wait for the opportunity to try and get one over his team-mate.
"It's quite odd that I've been waiting to get in the squad for a while and when I do, my first game is against England, back in Albania" he added.
"With Aswad being in the England squad, that makes it extra special.
"We live in the same house and there's always a good competitive spirit between us all so it will be great to play against each other.
"We've been on different teams in training but it's going to be odd playing against each other in a competitive match – it will be a good game.
"We're both looking forward to it.
"I know a few of the England side and they'll be a good team – obviously I know a bit about Aswad so I've got some inside knowledge!"
Thomas, who was one of the first to find out about his team-mate's call-up added: "It will be weird playing against Andi – I've played a competitive game against a team-mate before.
"The fact that I live with him as well makes it even more strange but we're both really looking forward to it.
"There's been a bit of banter flying round the house about it.
" I was probably one of the first people he told about the call-up and he was really excited about – it will be a decent game."
Looking forward to the game, which will be his second appearance for the England C side, he added: "It will be great. I will feel a lot more settled as I know a few of the boys now after keeping in contact with them from the first game.
"With both me and Andi getting call-ups for our national sides, it's good news for me, Andi and Grimsby Town as it is a sign that things are going well at the club."