YORK City goalkeeper Russ Howarth's impressive start to the season was today rewarded with the news he has been named in the England Under-20 squad to take on Portugal next month.

The call-up is a major feather in the cap for both Howarth, who has been capped at under-16, under-17 and under-18 level in recent seasons, and City.

He remains just one of two players from outside the top two divisions and is the only player from a Third Division club named in the squad, which features some of this country's brightest young talent and is just one level below the Under-21 age group.

Earlier this month, City boss Terry Dolan admitted Howarth was pressing Northern Ireland international Alan Fettis hard for a first team berth and the Riccall-based youngster was crowned man of the match after a stunning display in the 2-0 LDV Vans Trophy defeat at Notts County.

Howarth and his international team mates will take on Portugal at Southampton's St Mary's Stadium on Wednesday, November 21

It is the first time England have fielded a team at Under-20 level since the World Youth Championships held in Nigeria in 1999.

It was swiftly back down to earth for Howarth today however, with the goalkeeper named in the reserve team to face Stockport County at Bootham Crescent tonight, kick-off 7pm.

City reserves: Howarth, Rhodes, Smith, Wood, Maley, Thompson, Richardson, Fox, O'Kane, Emmerson, Barry, Collinson, Wise, Yalcin, Ibbetson, Boyce.

Former on-loan City striker Neil Tarrant has been released by Aston Villa.

Tarrant was signed for £250,000 from Ross County in 1999 but he never made a first team appearance at Villa Park.

He joined City this time last year but after scoring on his debut failed to find the back of the net in seven more appearances.

This season he has spent time on loan at Motherwell.

Updated: 09:57 Wednesday, October 31, 2001