Page highlights pathway for new look U21 squad
International
22 March 2019

Page highlights pathway for new look U21 squad

With the men’s senior team kicking off their EURO 2020 Qualifying campaign and the U19s compete for a place in the UEFA U19 European Championship finals this week, U21 manager Robert Page is full steam ahead with preparations for his side’s European qualifying campaign which kicks off in September.

2021 UEFA European Under-21 Championship Qualification

Opening games

  • Belgium (6 September)
  • Germany (10 September)

Venues & KO times TBC

As part of this month’s international window, Page has called up 22 players to a four-day training camp at Dragon Park in Newport to prepare his team ready for the 2021 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualification campaign. The campaign starts with a home double header in September against two of Europe’s finest teams, Belgium and Germany, a challenge which Page says he relishes. “They’re two of the top teams in European and speaking to the players and staff this week we’re all hungry for it. Against these quality teams the defending is important but at the same time we’ve also got players in our team that can hurt top level opposition. It’s important we prepare right for the whole campaign as well as these opening matches. The players know that and the hard work has started this week.”

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The U21s finished their last campaign on a high with a 3-1 win against Switzerland. It was a feat made more impressive by the fact that ten players eligible for the U21s missed the match as they were in Ryan Giggs’ senior squad. “It’s good to see the pathway working and at the same time we’re starting to build a real strength in depth. We’ve got a young senior team and everyone in the system has a chance to step up. Ryan and myself are in constant contact in regards to who’s ready to step up and that’s an important message for us to pass on to our players. We are a nation that’s working hard on developing young players and we want the players to thrive off that.”

Out of the 22 players involved in the March training camp, only 7 were involved in the previous campaign and Page says educating the new faces on the player pathway is an important part of the camp. “We’ve gone out and identified some players playing first team football at their clubs and they deserve the opportunity to come in and show us what they’re all about in our environment. In our first meeting we showed them the pathway from the under 21s to the first team. We played a video of the players that have progressed to the seniors over the last twelve months. It’s been great to see players in our last campaign being called up to Ryan’s latest squad which goes to show there’s a genuine pathway for these players to progress their development.”

TRAINING: Wales U21s
TRAINING: Wales U21s

As well as the squad in the training camp, players involved in Paul Bodin’s squad involved in the UEFA U19 European Championship Elite Round could also give Page a selection headache before September. “I’m excited for the future. It’s not just about the players who are on this current camp but we’ve also got Paul’s under 19 group out in the Netherlands right now. There’s definitely some players there in contention for a callup in the near future and for the start of the under 21 campaign. It was very encouraging to see them put the Netherlands to the sword on Wednesday night despite the result. I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do against Spain and Slovenia.”

Wales Squad: Niall CLAYTON (Oxford United), Rhys Davies (Leicester City), Regan POOLE (Manchester United- On loan with Newport County), Rhys NORRINGTON-DAVIES (Sheffield United), Ryan SEARS (Shrewsbury Town), Niall HUGGINS (Leeds United), Tom PUGH (Scunthorpe United), Jordan DAVIES (Brighton & Hove Albion), Ben WILLIAMS (Barnsley), Morgan ROBERTS (Northampton Town), Oliver COOPER (Swansea City), Harry CLIFTON (Grimsby Town), Aaron Heap (Oxford United), Nathan BROADHEAD (Everton), Aaron LEWIS (Swansea City – On loan with Doncaster Rovers), Joe LOW (Bristol City), Daniel MOONEY (Fleetwood Town), Kieran EVANS (Swansea City), Mo TOURAY (Newport County – On loan with Barry Town), Mark Harris (Cardiff City – On loan with Port Vale), James WAITE (Cardiff City), Cole DASILVA (Brentford)