England C: Background on ‘Non-League Lions’ as international football comes to Altrincham

While Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions will travel to Naples later this week, England’s brightest non-league stars head to the North-West to take on Wales C.

Founded in 1979, the England C team gives players from outside the Premier League and Football League an opportunity to sample the feeling of representing their country.

And for some, the call-up to the team, which has been managed by Paul Fairclough since 2003, has acted as a springboard to further international honours.

Previous England C alumni include forwards Jamal Lowe and Andre Gray, who have both since gone on to represent Jamaica at senior level, as well as defender Andy Yiadom, who represented Ghana as recently as 2022.

The 16-man England C squad selected for Tuesday’s fixture against Wales C

Last week, Fairclough confirmed the latest batch of England C hopefuls who will take on Wales C at Altrincham’s J Davidson Stadium on Tuesday evening.

Josh Lundstram will be flying the flag for the North-West, with the Alty midfielder in line to win his maiden England C cap on home soil.

Oldham Athletic goalkeeper Magnus Norman was also initially named in the final 16-man squad, but has since withdrawn through injury.

Oldham Athletic have had a change of representative in Paul Fairclough’s squad.

The Latics did though announce that striker Joe Nuttall had been drafted into the squad.

Nuttall will replace arguably the standout name amongst the original squad in Macauley Langstaff, whose goalscoring exploits for Notts County this season have prompted comparisons to Manchester City striker Erling Haaland.

County confirmed that Langstaff had withdrawn from the squad as a ‘precaution’, and is expected to be fit for their National League clash against Scunthorpe United on Saturday.

Overall, Fairclough has retained just one player from the squad who were comfortably beaten by Tuesday’s opponents in his side’s last outing, with Solihull Moors midfielder Joe Sbarra the sole member invited back for this meeting.

Highlights of the last meeting of the two sides, which ended a 4-0 Wales C victory.

That fixture nearly 12 months ago marked the post-COVID return of the England C side, but their first game in nearly three years ended in disappointment as they were beaten 4-0 in Caernarfon.

Meanwhile, the Wales C squad, which is comprised of players from the Welsh domestic leagues, has a more familiar feel and includes Connah’s Quay Nomads midfielder Aeron Edwards, who scored twice in last year’s victory.

The action from Altrincham is set to get underway from 7:45pm on Tuesday, with the match being broadcast live on Welsh language channel S4C.