Dollah Kassim Award winner Joshua gets ready for St Etienne stint
2015 award winner Joshua shrugs off ankle worries as he prepares to train at St Etienne
Following the footsteps of previous The New Paper-Dollah Kassim Award winners, last year's top pick Joshua Bernard Pereira will also hone his skills at a European club soon.
Joshua is expected to recover in time from an ankle injury for a training stint with French Ligue 1 side St Etienne from March 11-19.
Responding to a query from The New Paper, an Football Association of Singapore (FAS) spokesman said yesterday: "Joshua has an ankle injury, but is back in non-contact training - gym work and jogging.
"He won't be in competitive action for three weeks, but he is expected to be fit in time for the overseas stint."
Joshua, 18, earned the chance to train with the French club - lying fourth in Ligue 1 - through the Singapore Pools Passport to Excellence, after being crowned the winner of The New Paper-Dollah Kassim Award last November.
He will be travelling with National Football Academy (NFA) Under-15 player Mohamad Hamizan Mohamad Hisham, under the FAS Development Programme.
They will be accompanied by NFA U-14 assistant coach Shahrin Shari.
St Etienne are 10-time champions of the French top division. Some of their alumni include the country's greatest footballers, like Michel Platini and Laurent Blanc.
"I'm quite excited (about the trip) because I've never been to Europe before," Joshua told The New Paper.
"I hope to gain as much experience from the players at the club, not only on the pitch, but also off it - the way they conduct themselves before training and after."
The FAS-led initiative, backed by Singapore Pools funding, will see Joshua leave for France on March 11.
The ankle problem shouldn't bother the tenacious midfielder that much, as he has bounced back from more serious injuries in the past.
Joshua fractured his right fibula when he was 12 and broke an ankle in 2013 but, each time, he showed great mental strength to recover from the setbacks.
This is not the first time he's going overseas for a training trip.
Three years ago, while at the Singapore Sports School, he was selected for a week-long stint with J.League side Albirex Niigata's Under-18 squad in Japan.
"That trip opened my eyes to the different level the Japanese are on," he said.
"They are really disciplined. Even before training, they are working on their own techniques individually.
"So I think it has helped me be a little more disciplined in terms of working on my own technique."
The teenager was one of the stand-out performers for the Singapore Under-18s during last year's qualification tournament for the AFC Under-19 Championship, which will be held in Bahrain in October.
He was then picked as the winner of last year's TNP Dollah Kassim award, pipping five other nominees - Justin Hui (NFA U-17), Elliot Ng and Saifullah Akbar (both NFA U-16) and Glenn Kweh and Benjamin Davis (both NFA U-15).
Previous award winners Ammirul Emmran Mazlan (2010) and Adam Swandi (2011) each spent two weeks with English Premier League side Newcastle United, and the winners over the last three years - R Aaravin (2012), Hazim Faiz Hassan (2013) and Muhelmy Suhaimi (2014) - polished their skills at French outfit FC Metz.
I hope to gain as much experience from the players at the club, not only on the pitch, but also off it.
— TNP-Dollah Kassim Award 2015 winner Joshua Pereira