Grimsby Town's Aswad Thomas proud of his maiden England C call-up
WHEN Aswad Thomas walks out to represent his country tonight it will mark the proudest moment of his career so far.
The 23-year-old is set to make his debut for Paul Fairclough's non-league select side when they take on Belgium in a vital International Challenge Trophy group game (6pm).
Following a home draw with Italy and a 4-0 defeat against Russia in Moscow earlier this year, nothing less than a victory in Zaventem will see his England C side stand any chance of progressing to the semi-finals.
Even then, their chances could be scuppered if Italy pull off a win against Russia in November.
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Thomas was selected for the squad alongside his Grimsby Town team-mate Sam Hatton, who has since been forced to pull out with an ankle injury.
And while Thomas is naturally disappointed for his fellow defender, he is proud to fly the flag for the Mariners – saying that the duo's call up is a sign that things are going right at Blundell Park.
He said: "I'm excited about the game, it will be a great experience.
"I know a couple of the lads from playing against them in the past and I was speaking to a couple of the Forest Green lads who are in the team after the game on Saturday.
"I'm looking forward to it. I feel good in myself and feel fit so I'm confident.
It's great for Grimsby that both me and Sam got called up and it shows that things are going well for us.
"I'm gutted for Sam that he's had to pull out but I'm looking forward to it."
His call-up to the national side is the culmination of years of hard work by the youngster, following his release from Charlton – a club he joined as a trainee.
After leaving the Valley, he joined Woking on a free before moving to Braintree in July 2011.
After impressing for the Iron last season, he was snapped up by Town, signing a two-yeal deal for an undisclosed fee.
And the full-back says that he is pleased that the hard work he's put in has been recognised by the England bosses.
He said: "Obviously I've had to work hard at Braintree last year and then again this time round to settle down here and put the performances in, so it's nice to get recognised for that.
"It shows the scouts are watching.
"Playing for England will be a new experience for me. It will be a different environment, playing with different players and it's a taste of international football.
"Belgium are a strong side so it will be a good test. It will be a proud moment for me and my family if I get to play."
But, despite all the excitement around the call-up, Thomas remains focused on the task at hand with Town.
He added: "It's going to be a great couple of days with England. I know that I'll get well looked after over there.
"I should come back feeling fit and fresh on Friday, ready to go against Kidderminster on Saturday for what is another big game for the club."