JACK Simpson’s “amazing drive and determination” aided his England under-21 call-up – according to the man who unearthed his talent at youth level.

Coach Tim Davis worked with the Dorset-raised youngster while with Weymouth under-9s and has since been a proud admirer of the 21-year-old’s impressive rise to Cherries’ first-team set-up.

Drafted into Aidy Boothroyd’s Young Lions squad on Sunday, Cherries academy graduate Simpson could make his international debut against Denmark in Esbjerg today (5pm).

Davis made the former Wey Valley student captain of his team within six weeks of meeting him.

Simpson starred in a County Cup final victory over Poole more than a decade ago.

Reflecting on the Dorset star’s early steps on the road to the international arena, Davis said: “He was a natural born leader.

“As a kid he wasn’t blessed with the most natural talent, like some are, but he had an amazing drive and determination.

“For some it comes too easy but he never had that. Jack always had that drive to win.

“He is so level-headed and he has the mindset to focus on the football. Jack is a fantastic kid.”

“He had been tremendous since he joined Weymouth and we went on to win the league and county cup double. In the final against Poole he scored and everybody started taking notice of him.”

After he impressed at Weymouth, Simpson joined up with Cherries’ youth set-up.

He scored on his first-team debut against Middlesbrough in the Carabao Cup last season and became the club’s first academy graduate to start a Premier League game when he featured at Manchester City in December.

Impressive displays in this season’s Carabao Cup played a part in his England under-21 selection. Simpson has also agreed a contract extension at Vitality Stadium, which he signed last week.

While now established as a defender, in youth football the Dorset star had been used as a midfield general.

“He played centre-midfield for me but I always told his mum he would be a centre-back and she thought I was crazy,” added Davis.

“He wasn’t blessed with massive pace and you could always see he was going to play centre-back.

“He could read the game like there was no tomorrow. He had great distribution, the mentality of a midfield player and the confidence of a centre-back.

“You could just see straightaway the player he could be.”

With Simpson yet to feature in the top flight for Eddie Howe’s men this season, Davis is hopeful an England call could lead to an increase in game time.

“Jack is now at the stage in his career where he needs to play games and he is being held back almost,” he said.

“He needs to be playing matches and get himself out there. If anyone from this area is going to, it will be Jack.”

Simpson could feature alongside Cherries team-mate Lewis Cook during the fixture at Blue Water Arena.