There is never a bad time to represent your country but, as Harry Chapman concedes, sometimes the timing is far from ideal.
After scoring a hat-trick against Leyton Orient last weekend, the Sheffield United youngster would have ordinarily fancied his chances of starting Sunday’s derby at Chesterfield.
But instead of preparing for a match which could see Chris Wilder’s team stretch its unbeaten run in League One competition to 12 games, Chapman finds himself on the other side of the world after being selected in England’s under-20 squad for The Continental Cup in South Korea.
“It’s always an honour to play at international level,” he said. “I’m never going to complain about that. Obviously it would have been nice to be involved (with United) again after getting those goals but the lads and the team will still be there when I get back.”
Chapman’s presence in East Asia, alongside his United team mate and close friend Louis Reed, underlines the raw deal lower league clubs are often forced to accept during international breaks. Goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, who was set to deputise for Simon Moore at the Proact Stadium, will also be absent having been summoned to the first round of Euro under-19 qualifying in Wales.
Wilder, whose Premier League and Championship counterparts enjoy a blank weekend on their calendars, has been forced to decide between calling-off the fixture and trying to maintain his side’s momentum instead.
Chapman, who celebrated his birthday 24 hours before putting Orient to the sword, said: “I’m getting old now and so I’ve got to start pushing on. I went home to see my family before our last game but I didn’t really get up to much. I just went to a spa with the missus so I’ll celebrate when I get back. Hopefully I’ve cemented my place in United’s team and can stay on for a long time.”
Chapman’s desire to remain in South Yorkshire, for the foreseeable future at least, will please Wilder who labelled the 19-year-old an “exciting talent” after signing him on a season long loan from Middlesbrough earlier this term.
“I get on well with Reedy, he’s probably my best mate here,” Chapman continued. “We’re the same age and we’ve got the same interests. So it’s great that he’s involved with England too because it helps having people around you know.”
“We were meant to fly out before the Orient match but we were allowed to delay travelling if we had a game. It was a 14 hours flight but it will seem like 48 sat next to Reedy. At least I’ll be able to sleep.”
Chapman and Reed were both unused substitutes for England’s 8-1 victory over Nigeria on Wednesday. Twenty-four hours later, Chapman completed the 2-1 defeat by South Korea while Reed replaced goalscorer Ovie Ejaria midway through the second-half. Paul Chapman’s squad complete their schedule against Iran tomorrow.
“I’ve never been to South Korea before,” Chapman said. “It’s a lovely country but we’re not here to visit, we’ve come over for business because we want to send out a message before the World Cup.”