NEW Burnley professional Cameron Howieson could become the club’s youngest ever international after being fast-tracked into the New Zealand senior squad.
The 17-year-old midfielder has made the All Whites’ 22-man cut for forthcoming friendlies in the United States and 2014 World Cup qualifying games, just a month after being handed his Clarets debut.
Should Howieson be selected, he will eclipse Leighton James, who was 18 years and two months old when he made his Wales debut.
He would also be the youngest player to earn a senior Kiwi cap, after Chris Wood.
The West Brom striker was 17 years, five months and 26 days when he made his debut in a friendly against Tanzania on June 3, 2009.
Howieson, who was born on December 7, 1991, could pip him by at least six days if he plays in any of their five scheduled games.
But the call-up itself caps an exciting few months for the Blenheim-born teenager, who only arrived at Turf Moor last summer on a two-year scholarship.
Since then he has helped the Clarets to the FA Youth Cup semi-finals for the first time in 34 years, has signed a two-year professional contract, and made his senior debut from the bench at home to Birmingham City.
And there could be more to come.
If Howieson impresses during his spell with the senior squad, he could put himself in the frame for a place in New Zealand’s Olympic squad for London 2012.
Of his call-up, the former Asia Pacific Football Academy starlet admitted: “It came as a bit of surprise. I didn’t think it would happen so quickly.
“I am very excited about it. It was always my childhood dream to play for the All Whites so this is a big achievement.
“I thought I might be involved in the Under 20 World Cup so to be in the senior squad is a bit of a surprise but the coach wants me there.
“I have been training with the (Burnley) first team and been involved for the past couple of months and the coach thinks that Championship players can be involved in the senior squad. Hopefully I am capable of fitting in.”
Howieson will travel for friendlies against El Salvador in Houston on May 23 and Honduras in Dallas on May 26. New Zealand will then move on to the Solomon Islands for group games against Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the host country, in the Oceania round two qualifiers from June 1 to 12.
Dunedin-born Howieson is tipped for a bright future after being linked with both Liverpool and Newcastle before penning a two-year professional contract at Turf Moor halfway through his two-year scholarship.
He is joined in the New Zealand squad by 18-year-old Blackburn Rovers midfielder Tim Payne.
Other English-based players are Ryan Nelsen (Tottenham), Winston Reid (West Ham), Tommy Smith (Ipswich) and Greg Wood (WBA).
New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert said: “Tim and Cameron have both done well to get themselves to professional clubs and Cameron has made his senior debut recently, which just continues the promise both players have shown at age group level.
"We want to get them in and give them a taste of the environment to see if they can make the step up to international football for the All Whites and the Olympic team.”