THERE are four young Saints players in the 22-man England Academy squad who play the first of a two-match series against the Australian Schoolboys team at the Leigh Sports Village on Saturday afternoon (2pm kick-off).

Jack Welsby, Jake Wingfield, Josh Simm and Tom Nisbet are included in the squad as England prepare to halt the winning run of the tourists who have already beaten Yorkshire and Lancashire.

Dave Elliott, who has been involved in the England Academy set-up since 2010, said: “Games against the Australian Schoolboys are always special, and we’re all really looking forward to what’s coming up in the next couple of weeks.

“The Aussies are a strong, athletic and talented group, as always. But Yorkshire and Lancashire both acquitted themselves really well in their games against the Australians in the last week or so, and I’m excited about the talent and the ability we’ve got in our England squad.

“The lads are also lucky to have a couple of outstanding coaches who have been released by their clubs to work with the squad in James Ford, who has done such a great job with York over the last couple of years, and Jamie Langley, who has made a terrific start to his transition from playing to coaching with London Broncos.

"I’m really enjoying working with both of them, and hopefully they’re also enjoying and benefitting from this experience.”

There has been one sour note in the build-up to the internationals for the England squad, with the shock news that young Saint Joe Sharratt is in hospital after suffering serious injuries in a well-publicised incident in Manchester at the weekend.

“Joe is a popular and respected lad among the group who was exemplary in everything he did with the Lancashire squad last week, and he was a key figure in their team performing so well against the Australians,” added Elliott.

“We’re all thinking of him, and I’d like to send our best wishes on behalf of the whole squad and everyone else at the Rugby Football League to Joe and his family.”

England Academy squad: Ben Davies (Widnes Vikings), Cameron Scott (City of Hull Academy), Corey Johnson (Leeds Rhinos), Callum McLelland (Leeds Rhinos), Ethan Havard (Wigan Warriors), Harry Newman (Leeds Rhinos), Harry Smith (Wigan Warriors), Innes Senior (Huddersfield Giants), Muzzi Mustapha (Leeds Rhinos), Jack Welsby (St Helens), Jake Wingfield (St Helens), James McDonnell (Wigan Warriors), Joe Shorrocks (Wigan Warriors), Josh Simm (St Helens), Loui McConnell (Leeds Rhinos), Louis Senior (Huddersfield Giants), Morgan Smithies (Wigan Warriors), Oliver Wilson (Bradford Bulls), Owen Trout (Leeds Rhinos), Sam Walters (Widnes Vikings), Tom Holroyd (Leeds Rhinos), Tom Nisbet (St Helens).