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Last week I reported that both Jeff Hendrick and Stephen Ward had been called up by the Republic of Ireland, that Sam Vokes was in the Wales squad and Steven Defour had again received a Belgium call from Roberto Martinez.

This morning I was all set to complete the international calls round up with the news that Scott Arfield, Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Tom Heaton have all received call ups from Canada, Iceland and England respectively while Conor Mitchell, who finally got his debut last month, is again in the Northern Ireland under-21 squad.

Each and every one of those call ups should be welcomed and we should congratulate every one of those players who will be representing our club on the international stage. It’s far removed from a period of over 16 years when we didn’t get a solitary full international call from any country for one of our players.

On 10th June 1984, Brian Flynn played his last game for Wales in a friendly against Israel in Tel Aviv, that coming two weeks after Billy Hamilton played his last international as a Burnley player for Northern Ireland; this one against Finland in a World Cup qualifier in Pori.

It was a long, long wait before we could see another Burnley played in international action. From June 1984 we had to wait until 2nd September 2000 when Phil Gray, a recent signing, came on as a substitute for Northern Ireland in a World Cup qualifier at Windsor Park against Malta. He did more than come on, he scored the only goal of the game.

Now, seven players flying out on full international duty along with Mitchell’s under-21 call. But this morning, seven became eight, and as the headline says, this one tops the lot.

It was more in hope than expectation that Michael Keane’s name could be in Gareth Southgate’s first England squad. He’s suddenly being talked about as a potential England international and I know those who watch him most often, i.e. Burnley fans, know exactly why given the form he’s been in for us through last season and now going into this season in the Premier League.

We were disappointed with the likes of Phil Jagielka and the woefully out of form Gary Cahill getting the nod, but this morning, out of the blue, came the superb news that Keano will now be packing his bags ready for his first call up.

The FA announced

Michael Keane has been handed his first international call-up after Glen Johnson withdrew from the England squad through injury.

Burnley defender Keane – who has played for the country at under-19, under-20 and under-21 levels – will report to St. George’s Park on Tuesday along with the rest of the group.

The 23-year-old is drafted in after Stoke City man, Johnson was ruled out of Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against Malta.

Keane, a former Manchester United trainee, made 16 appearances for the Under-21s under Gareth Southgate between 2013 and 2015, and now steps up to the senior squad.

I was genuinely excited when Heaton got his first call up and that night when he came on for his debut at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light was incredible. I really had reached the point where I never thought I would ever see a Burnley played represent England again.

Now it’s two in the squad and when did that last happen? Back in October 1961 both John Connelly and Ray Pointer played against Portugal at Wembley. England won 2-0 to ensure qualification for the finals in Chile and the goals were scored by the Burnley pair. Incredibly, Pointer was never selected again.

Earlier that year, both John Angus and Brian Miller had debuted in the same game, a friendly against Austria in Vienna. Both won their first and last caps that day.

But the last time two Burnley players were called up for England was in 1974. On 3rd April of that year, Martin Dobson made his England debut against Portugal in Lisbon with goalkeeper Alan Stevenson on the bench. On the same night, without the influential pair, Burnley were held to a 3-3 draw by Manchester United at Old Trafford.

I’m not expecting Heaton and Keane to be two starters in these next two games but it is absolutely brilliant to see an England squad with the word BURNLEY mentioned twice.

Only last week, Keane said: “Now I’m in the Premier League I think England has got to be my aim. I want to play at the top level of English football and playing for England is the pinnacle of that.”

Up the Clarets is rightly proud of all those Burnley players who have won international calls again, and is thrilled with the selection of Keane. He might not get a debut this time, but I’m convinced it is not that far away.

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