Tanner catching the eye in England

Premier League sides are tracking Australian teenager Hyuga Tanner after the midfielder's impressive performances for Blackburn's under-21s.

So far, the central midfielder's time with Rovers has seen the Australia youth international spend time with the first team and also get a taste of playing against some of the biggest names in the EPL

“It is a privilege to get called up to train with the first team. The coaches and players are very professional,” Tanner told FourFourTwo.

“My highlights of this season include playing against Arsenal and Manchester United. It is such a great opportunity to play at a high level in the U21 Premier League.

"You get to play against some of the best players in England. Against Arsenal I got to come up against players like Theo Walcott, Abou Diaby and Serge Gnabry. Against United I played against players like Adnan Januzaj and Ander Herrera."

Tanner is Australia-born with an English father and a Japanese mother, and he left Australia at a very young age. 

When the 18-year-old first arrived at Blackburn, it took a little time to adjust to the English game.

“I was 14 when I first moved to England. I found it was hard at first because of how fast the pace is in England was compared to the pace in Australian football in my opinion,” said Tanner.

“Training is very organised with regards to how much load we do and how much rest we get. Some sessions will be very intense, where as some will be very light. We normally discuss shape and tactics the day before a match and we do a lot of match analysis, which includes both individual and team video sessions.

“I would say the scrutiny that is placed on you in terms of media is very high. There is a lot of pressure to perform at your best week in, week out but I don't really take much notice of the media side.”

Dan Fletcher, who in the past has worked with Australians James Troisi, Brett Emerton, Lucas Neill and Nick Carle, looks after Tanner.

Fletcher is now the managing director of Mac1 Sports and has knowledge of Australian football after living and coaching down under in the early 1990s.

“I love working with Aussie footballers, they always give 100 per cent, that's why they do well over here," Fletcher said.

“Having lived and coached in Australia in the early '90s, it became very apparent back then that the one thing you get with all Aussies is that they have a great attitude to do well and better themselves.”

Now, Fletcher has several young Aussies on his books, including James Demetriou at Swansea and highly rated Watford junior Xane Zaineddine.

The former coach says Tanner’s ability as a footballer impressed him immediately.

“A scout of mine sent me some DVDs of some training sessions that he had put on in a park in Sydney one school holidays and whilst watching it Hyuga Tanner stuck out, so I made some enquiries about him," Fletcher said when asked how he signed Tanner to his sports agency.

“He had natural ability and you could tell that he had a great football brain from the footage. He always wants the ball when he's playing and he's always eager to learn and better himself. He's very respectful too with a spot-on attitude.”

He added: “Once I found out that his father was from the north west of England and was potentially looking to come back to the UK then everything started to click into place. Hyuga’s a great kid and comes from a great family. His dad Allan and mum Yukie must take a huge amount of credit for the way that they've raised him.”

Tanner has represented Australia in youth football, playing for the Joeys team that was coached by Alistair Edwards.

Like most Aussies, he hopes to one day make his full Australian debut.

“Playing for the Joeys was such an enjoyable experience. My biggest achievement as a player was to play for my country and there is not a prouder moment in my life. My dream is to play for my country in a senior international," Tanner said.

Tanner's performances have led to interest from top-flight English clubs tracking the teenager.

But he is only interested in putting his focus towards his club side for the moment.

“At the moment my short term goal is to keep my starting XI spot in the U21s and performing consistently," Tanner said. 

"My long-term goal is to get a regular spot in the first team for Blackburn. I don’t take much notice about other clubs' attention on me. I’m just concentrating on my football.

"It doesn’t really affect me too much but it was nice to get noticed and get recognised for my work."