SOUTHEND United goalkeeper Ted Smith has retained his place in England’s under-18 squad for their forthcoming matches against both Belgium and Croatia.

The Benfleet-based shot-stopper represented the Three Lions for the first time in a friendly with Hungary last October.

And the former King John School pupil is thrilled to have kept his place in the squad.

“I think I’m the only goalkeeper who has been in all three squads so it suggests I’m doing something right which is great news personally,” said Smith, 18.

“I really enjoyed my first experience with the side.

“There are a lot of players from top Premier League clubs so it’s nice to get to know them and see how they work and train.”

Smith has recently been on the bench for Blues’ first team.

And the young guardian continues to work closely with the club’s first choice goalkeeper Daniel Bentley who also came through the youth ranks at Roots Hall.

He also captains the Shrimpers’ youth side and feels his call up again underlines the good work being done by the coaches at the club.

“It’s testament to the work being done here that I’ve been called up in the first place and that I’ve been able to keep my place in it too,” said Smith.

“It’s obviously exciting and I’m really looking forward to the games.

“Belgium have been bringing through some top talent in recent seasons so that should be a great test.

“And Croatia have always been one of the top nations so that should be another good game.

“I kept a clean sheet on my debut, and it would be great to do that again if I get the chance.”

England will take on Belgium at their St George’s Park base in Burton next Tuesday before facing Croatia twice in quick succession next month.

The first game will be played on Monday, March 3 at a venue that has yet to be confirmed before the two teams play again at St George’s Park the following Wednesday.