Jed Ward makes England U20s debut after breakthrough Bristol Rovers campaign

-Credit: (Image: Michael Steele/Getty Images)
-Credit: (Image: Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Jed Ward played the full 90 minutes for England Under-20s on Friday afternoon as they beat Sweden Under-21s 2-1 in a friendly, earning the Bristol Rovers goalkeeper his first cap for the Young Lions.

The 21-year-old earned his first call up back in March but didn't make an appearance with James Beadle then the shot stopper used but now the young shot stopper has a deserved cap to his name after a breakthrough season with the Gas.

2024 has been a whirlwind for Ward so far after establishing himself as Rovers' first-choice goalkeeper in League One as a 20-year-old alongside two call-ups for England Under-20s and signing a new four-year contract in March, particularly when considering he started the 2023/24 season on loan in the National League.

After the arrival of Matt Cox on loan from Brentford, Ward joined Wealdstone on a season-long loan last summer but was recalled in November due to a shortage of shot stoppers ahead of the Gas' EFL Trophy match at Newport County. Former interim manager Andy Mangan played the then-20-year-old who kept a clean sheet in a 1-0 victory but had to wait another two months before playing for Rovers.

Matt Taylor opted to give the academy product a chance in between the sticks at the end of January, throwing him in for Rovers' 3-1 win over Oxford United and Ward hasn't looked back since, going on to play 17 of the remaining 18 matches after a man of the match display against the U's.

During that time, the 21-year-old kept five clean sheets with a number of excellent performances and, having come through the academy and hailing from Bradley Stoke, Gasheads will be keen to see the youngster retain his first-choice status going into the new campaign.