EX-ROWNTREES footballer Matt Kilgallon is hoping promotion to the Premier League can catapult him into the England squad.

Kilgallon, born in Appleton Roebuck, was poached from York City’s schoolboy team by Leeds United at the age of 12 and, three years later, won his first international honours.

Now, the former Tadcaster Grammar School pupil is hoping victory in today’s Championship play-off final over Burnley at Wembley will help his quest to play for the Three Lions at full senior level, citing one-time Bramall Lane team-mate Phil Jagielka as his inspiration.

The 25-year-old centre-back said: “If you look at Jags, everybody knew he was a good player when he was playing for us, but he’s gone and done it in the Premiership with Everton and he’s in the England squad.

“I’ve played for England from under-15 to under-21 level, so you never know. It’s the next step.

“I feel ready to perform at the highest level again. It’s everybody’s dream to be playing in the biggest games in the biggest stadiums and getting on Match Of The Day.

“I want to play against the best strikers and make myself a better player. You’ve got to have the confidence to believe you can handle the likes of Fernando Torres and Didier Drogba and, if you have one good season, anything can happen.

“The last time I played in the Premiership, Emile Heskey and John Carew gave me the toughest time, so I might have a calf strain when we play Aston Villa!”

Kilgallon added that he was a lethal marksman himself growing up in York.

“I was a striker and I used to bang in a few,” he revealed. “But I joined Leeds at the age of 12 and, because I was tall, they made me a defender. I miss all the glory a bit though.”

Kilgallon’s mum still lives in Tockwith and his father in Wetherby, meaning the Premiership hopeful still makes regular trips back to North Yorkshire to visit family and friends, who will be among today’s sell-out crowd.

He is hoping for a better result and performance than his last appearance in what is believed to be the most financially-rewarding game in football. Then 22, Kilgallon was a member of the Leeds side that lost 3-1 to Watford in the 2006 final at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

“I can’t really remember much of the game – it’s all a blur – but we didn’t start well and couldn’t get back into the match,” he recalled. “I don’t want to feel like that again.

“We had worked hard all season and to play like we did wasn’t good enough. I didn’t enjoy my holiday because you think about where you could have been playing in the Premiership.

“Along with being relegated with Sheffield United, it’s the biggest disappointment of my career.”

The Blades’ departure from top-flight football two years ago was shrouded in controversy as Carlos Tevez inspired West Ham’s successful battle to beat the drop despite huge question marks over the legalities of his transfer to Upton Park.

United were recently awarded compensation as a result of their subsequent relegation but Kilgallon is not bitter, saying: “That doesn’t rankle at all and we can’t keep going on about it.

“It’s got to be put in the past because we’ve got a massive chance now to get the club back in the Premiership where they belong.”

The final could also offer redemption for Blades boss and former Scarborough goalkeeper Kevin Blackwell, who was Kilgallon’s manager at Leeds for the Watford game at Cardiff.

Blackwell has, so far, been outwitted twice by opposite number Owen Coyle this season, losing 3-2 and 1-0 in the league, but Kilgallon added: “They have good individual players but we’ve done our homework on them and are well prepared.”