The March international break would have been a period in which a number of Brentford B players would depart to represent their nations at youth level.
The likes of Jaakko Oksanen, David Titov, Joe Adams and Japhet Sery Larsen were all in line to turn out for their countries during the pause in club football, but due to the COVID-19 outbreak across Europe, the decision was taken by UEFA to postpone the fixtures.
The postponement in matches has also denied Brentford B’s Nathan Shepperd the opportunity to make his debut for the Welsh Under-21 side having been given his first international call up.
The 19-year-old has thrived under Neil MacFarlane and Jani Viander this season and has gone on to play 26 times over the course of the campaign, often pulling off some impressive stops.
Nathan was due to link up with Paul Bodin’s side ahead of matches with Moldova and Germany in qualification matches for the European Under-21 Championships which are originally scheduled to take place next year.
“It’s obviously not a nice feeling to find out it’s going to be cancelled," said Nathan. "Originally, I was buzzing when I found out. Recently training has been going well and we’ve been trying to keep it competitive, so it hasn’t been too boring. Everyone has been taking it as serious as it was before.”
“It’s frustrating at the moment, but everyone is taking it seriously and still doing things properly. Although the first team don’t have games at the moment, we could still be called over to train so that gives us the chance to impress.”
Prior to the postponement of the fixtures, Nathan was originally delighted that his hard work had been recognised by the international setup. He said: “I was buzzing, when I found out I couldn’t stop smiling and I was over the moon. They (Neil, Sam and Jani ) sat me down and I thought I was in trouble to be honest! But they told me, and I was so happy.”
When asked about what the key was to the call up, Nathan explained: “I think it was working hard, I didn’t really think about it too much, I just wanted to work hard and play as many games as I could for Brentford, and then it came about.
“It’s unbelievable, seven or eight months in and we’ve (the squad) gone up a level with the training and it’s all down to them and the great group as well.”
Brentford B Head Coach Neil MacFarlane explained how pleased he and his staff were for the youngster to be rewarded with an international call up.
He said: “We’re absolutely thrilled for Nathan and it shows the strategy of the B Team which has been running through the club in the past few years. He was released by Swansea and came into the B team setup and has built some real confidence and fitness levels. He’s been working with Jani and to the structure of the team and he’s really flourished.
“I think Nathan is an unbelievable character and it’s one of the reasons as to why he’s been the captain of the B Team for many games throughout the season. If ever anyone deserved it, then it’s Nathan.”