Forget Golden Balls – Golden Boots Sylvan Ebanks-Blake is now hoping to use his career with Premier League promotion-chasing Wolverhampton Wanderers to forge himself an international career with England.
And should that pay off, Ebanks-Blake believes he has his hard task-master at Molineux, manager Mick McCarthy, to thank for helping him with that goal having broken into Stuart Pearce’s England Under-21s set up.
The Under-21s secured their place in next summer’s European Championship finals in Sweden with a 5-4 aggregate win over two legs against Wales at Villa Park on Tuesday night and, while Ebanks-Blake had to settle for a place on the bench, he is convinced his time will come with the young Three Lions side facing a packed winter schedule of five friendlies before the finals in Malmo next June.
The talented striker joined Wolves in January from Plymouth Argyle and was last season’s Golden Boot recipient for his time in both Argyle’s colours and the gold and black of Wolves.
He scored an impressive 25 goals last season and has already found the back of the net five times so far in this campaign in only seven matches.
He said: “Since he brought me to the club, Mick has been good to me personally but also with all the lads in general. He is always very honest and tells you how it is. He demands hard work from his players and if you give him that then your name will be down on the team sheet.
“We have got a very young squad at Wolves, and a few internationals too, which is very good for the lads who are gaining experience. It all really highlights the effort that is going on at the club.”
Ebanks-Blake is relishing life at Wolves under McCarthy and believes the side have the power and the belief to gain top-flight status this season. He said: “Mick McCarthy has done a brilliant job so far and we have had a good start in the league this season and have been performing well.
“I feel he can take me to that next level too. I think he can keep helping me achieve things like getting called up to the England Under-21s squad and being part of a successful team.”
The 22-year-old has been involved with the last two England Under-21 squads and hopes to kick on through his form with his club to secure a start at international level.
He said: “It was a surprise – but a very welcome surprise – to get the call last month and it is a chance I have relished.
“I really felt it is something that I earned with my performances last season so it is a credit to the work I have been doing.
“The Under-21s are a good bunch of lads and a tight-knit group and it obviously helped that I knew a few of them before this.”
Ebanks-Blake joined Wolves from Plymouth after only a season and a half under Ian Holloway having started his career in Cambridge before Manchester United came calling.
After a spell with United, including his debut in a 3-0 League Cup win over Crewe in 2004, Ebanks-Blake went out on loan with Belgian side Royal Antwerp before joining Plymouth in a bid to guarantee regular first-team football.
He said: I had to make a lot of decisions at a young age but I think the decisions I made have paid off. I know now the more experienced you get, decisions get easier.
“But it does feel like my choice was justified in coming to Wolves. I was always confident that if I was in this team I could score goals.
“A lot of people supported me and luckily it has gone well.”