Everton centre-back Jarrad Branthwaite hailed his maiden England call-up a dream come true.

The 21-year-old has enjoyed a breakthrough campaign with the Toffees, playing 31 times in all competitions after he spent last season on loan at PSV Eindhoven.

Branthwaite has benefited from injuries in the centre of England’s defence to be selected for the March friendlies with Brazil and Belgium, but promised to take in every moment when he links up with Gareth Southgate’s squad for the first time next week.

“It’s a dream come true,” Branthwaite told evertontv. “To represent your national team at any level is a massive achievement but for it to be the senior squad, I’m over the moon.

“I found out in training. The gaffer pulled me and told me I’ve been selected, so I was buzzing when I heard the news.

“You can only affect what you do on the pitch and give yourself the best possible opportunity to be selected and that’s by putting in good performances on the pitch.

“That’s what your only focus can be, really, and that’s been from when I came into the team to now – it’s just to keep delivering that high level and see where that takes me.

“I messaged my dad and he said he’s very proud of me. He said: ‘All of the family is proud’, so it’s a lovely feeling. I just can’t wait to join up with the team.

“They’re obviously really tough fixtures but I’m really happy to just be in the squad, take every moment in and see where it takes me.”

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Southgate insisted former England Under-21 international Branthwaite had been picked on merit.

He added: “He’s good with the ball, shows good composure, good mentality.

“He’s a left-footer and we don’t have many left-footed defenders. He’s in on merit and we’re keen to find out more about him.”