TEENAGE Wanderers winger Chris Lester hopes to round off a dream season at the Reebok with an international debut for Northern Ireland Under-21s tonight.

The 18-year-old Salfordian is in the squad for the opening UEFA 2015 Under-21 European Championship qualifier in Cyrpus, selected because his grandfather hails from Belfast.

He admits the call-up came as a shock but he is brimming with pride to be offered the chance.

And after his rapid progression through the Reebok ranks from youth team to the bench for the first-team last season, a debut would be the icing on the cake for the young prospect who will hope to help Northern Ireland qualify out of a group that also includes Italy, Serbia and Belgium, to reach the finals in the Czech Republic in two years’ time.

Speaking exclusively to The Bolton News, Lester said: “I qualify as my grandad was born in Belfast, so I feel proud that I’ve been picked by his country to play football and even more so if I get the chance to play.

“I was pleased with how the season went at Bolton and, of course, that helps when you are trying to get games for a national team.”

Lester began the campaign with David Lee and Tony Kelly’s Under-18s and shone in the FA Youth Cup run, scoring twice including a goal in the standout 8-4 fifth round win at Tottenham.

And Lee believes Lester has earned his chance of international recognition.

Lee said: “Chris has gone through a transition from youth team to reserve team and onto regular first team training and adapted very well. “With his pace and fitness levels, he will cause any defender a problem “I am really pleased for him. He deserves the adulation he receives.”

Lee is not the only one who has high hopes for Lester.

As well as his Youth performances, his under-21 outings were notable and that earned him appearances on the first-team bench against Sunderland in the FA cup and at home to Middlesbrough last month.

And boss Freedman has gone on record saying how much he has enjoyed having him around senior training.

Lester is naturally happy with how last season went and wants to push on even more next season and get a first-team debut.

He added: “Hopefully I can go back after the summer and improve on last year.

“The Youth Cup was a great run and I thought we were unlucky to get knocked out in the end.

“I thought we had a good enough team to go all of the way.

“Then, it was a great experience training with the first team and getting on the bench.

“All I can hope for is more of the same next year and even more.”