Duo’s coup

TWO of Bury Town’s hottest prospects have been celebrating this week after being selected for the English Colleges national squad.

Goalkeeper Nick Pope and centre-back Daniel Hitching, both 18, will team up with the country’s elite college players later inJanuary, culminating in an international tournament in Italy.

After lifting the Suffolk Senior Cup with Team Bury last season, the West Suffolk College Sports Academy duo have caught the eye of Blues boss Richard Wilkins and both are tipped to be stars of the future at Ram Meadow.

Sports Academy manager Neil Reader said: “Over the last 10 years, West Suffolk College have been fortunate enough to have had at least one student in the squad. But this is the first time for a few seasons that we have had two students selected. It is testament to the students’ dedication, ability and also to the coaching staff.”

Pope, who lives near Ely, excelled for England in last term’s Italy-based competition – helping the team to the final. This will be Hitching’s first taste of international football.

“Everyone at West Suffolk College is justifiably proud of both Nick and Daniel for what they have achieved,” added Reader, who guided Team Bury to the memorable county cup triumph at Portman Road in April.

As well as playing for West Suffolk College in the ECFA League, the pair have been regular members of Bury Town’s Ryman League Premier Division squad this campaign.

Pope has deputised for Marcus Garnham on several occasions, before Hitching made his full debut in a Ryman League Cup tie against Wingate and Finchley, in October. Both featured in Wilkins’ pre-season squad against Championship outfit Ipswich Town.

The pair have joined an impressive list of Sports Academy starlets who have represented their country, including Tom Bullard – now Bury Town captain – winger Scott Chaplin and Lee Smith, who is currently plying his trade with Histon in the Blue Square Conference.