A  YOUNG girl from Dalton has seen her dreams come true after earning a call-up to Manchester United's ranks.

Following an 'unbelievable amount of work', Thea McKenna was offered a place in the football club's girls academy from next season.

The McKenna family was informed by the Manchester United Foundation last month that Thea would be getting full registration to the academy between 2024 and 2025.

Her dad, Keir, described how the news was a testament to Thea's character and her unwavering love of playing football.

He said: "We enjoy watching her change from a shy, anxious little girl into an absolute lion when she steps on that pitch.

"And she amazes us on a weekly basis with the skills that she manages to pull off, goals that she scores, and the improvements that she makes to her game."

Over the years, Thea has taken part in youth set-ups across the northwest, though the big time is now potentially calling.

Keir added: "Unfortunately this means leaving grass roots football behind - maybe for now, maybe forever.

"Thea, Sadie [Thea's mum] and I have made some fantastic friends through football over the past few years, and we will miss seeing [them] all on a weekly basis."

Thea has been involved with Crooklands Casuals Under-10s, Onside Sports Coaching Development Under-10s, and Blackpool FC Girls and Ladies Under-11s.

"Thea has been lucky to have been coached by some amazing people who all selflessly give up their free time and have helped her get to the position she is in now - we as a family couldn't be more grateful to them all.

"A special mention must go to Corey Smith, Matty Green at Cumbria Strength and Conditioning, and Player Progression Coaching for all the hard work they have put in and the opportunities that they have created for Thea, whilst also keeping the training fun and enjoyable."

For Thea now, the 'hard work continues' as she looks to follow in the footsteps of Ella Toone and Mary Earps.