SINGAPORE: Fulham youth footballer Benjamin Davis has been handed his first call-up to the senior Singapore national team by Lions coach V Sundramoorthy, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) announced on Tuesday (Mar 13).
Davis, 17, was included in the Lions 23-man squad to face Maldives in a friendly on Mar 23 and against Chinese Taipei in an Asian Cup qualifier on Mar 27.
The forward, who was born in Thailand, signed a two-year scholarship deal with English Championship side Fulham in July 2017.
Davis is the first Singaporean to join a club in the English league in more than a decade, following defender Daniel Bennett's stint at Wrexham in 2003.
On his call-up to the Lions squad, Davis said: “I was pleasantly surprised to receive the call up and this moment means a lot to me as I have always wanted to play for the national team.
"My training at Fulham has been enriching and I am learning all the time. I will be making the most of this opportunity to learn from coach Sundram and the more experienced players whom I will be joining."
Davis is one of two uncapped players in the Lions' squad, the other being Geylang International's 26-year-old defender Anders Aplin.
Veteran defender Baihakki Khaizan, who currently plays for Thai side Udon Thani FC, was also called up to the squad. Baihakki has not featured for the Lions since the team's disappointing 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup campaign.
Baihakki and Davis are among 10 players currently playing overseas who have been called up by Sundram.
Hariss Harun (Johor Darul Ta'zim), Safuwan Baharudin (Pahang FA), Hassan Sunny (Army United), Shahdan Sulaiman (Melaka United FA), Izwan Mahbud (Nongbua Pitchaya), Hafiz Abu Sujad (Johor Darul Ta'zim 2), Faris Bin Ramli (PKNS) and Zulfahmi Arifin (Chonburi) ply their trade in Malaysia and Thailand.
Commenting on his selection, coach Sundram said: "With several of our players playing abroad this year, they will be bring wide-ranging experiences to the squad. I have called up a mix of players; with some new, some familiar and some returning faces."
Notable players who have been excluded from the Lions squad are Bennett, Mustafic Fahrudin and Shahril Ishak as Sundram looks to freshen the team for 2018.
The Lions endured a horrible 2017, failing to win in all eleven matches played and slumping to its lowest-ever position in FIFA's world rankings.
Ahead of the Lions' first couple of games in 2018, Sundram said: "These two matches are important to me in terms of bringing in fresh players into the fold to complement the seasoned players.
"I am looking forward to working with the boys again and hope to be playing to a full crowd of fans in our Lions’ first game of 2018 at the National Stadium."