Connolly Ready For World Cup

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Callum Connolly believes his loan spell at Wigan Athletic has readied him for the Under-20s World Cup in South Korea, which starts on Saturday.

Defender Connolly is one of five Everton players in the England squad, alongside Kieran Dowell, Jonjoe Kenny, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Ademola Lookman.

He spent the second half of this season on loan at Wigan Athletic, playing 18 times for the Latics.

Wigan were relegated to League One but for Connolly it was valuable experience, with the youngster having previously played only four first-team matches before heading to the DW Stadium in January.

Callum Connolly Wigan 480

He had a short spell on loan with Barnsley last term and made his senior Everton debut from the bench in April 2016 - his only senior Blues appearance to date.

“It was a great experience [at Wigan] and I thoroughly enjoyed it,” Connolly said. “Playing at Championship level is tough and the teams I played against were very strong and physical.

“I learnt a lot. Playing first-team football is a big positive for me and it’s only going to give me more confidence to kick on for next season. I feel I can bring even more to the table now.

“It was a tough situation and a lot of ups and downs whilst I was there. I knew when I was going there that there would be a tough few months ahead. But I went there to play games and do well, which is what I thought I did. I played 18 games and against some of the top sides, like Newcastle away when there was a crowd of nearly 60,000.

“Whilst I was there, I played right-back and right centre-half - anywhere across the back-four really. I thought I did well and I’m thankful for the manager that brought me in. I wish Wigan all the best for the future.”

England’s World Cup campaign kicks off on Saturday morning [9am UK time] against Argentina - the opening match of the tournament.

The Young Lions have been drawn in Group A, alongside Guinea and hosts South Korea.

The England squad headed to Asia at the start of last week, spending time at a training camp in Japan in preparation.

“We’ve played the likes of Spain, Holland and Croatia, so we are prepared to for facing tough teams like Argentina,” Connolly added. 

“We’ve got a big squad - 21 players - and a lot of those have played first-team football.

“We went to South Korea last November to play two friendlies - there’s an eight-hour time difference and it’s a different culture. 

“When we went last time it was hard to get the sleeping pattern right but hopefully going over a week or two early will help with that. It was warm and humid then, and it’s even increased since then!”

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