Wales v Denmark: Pre-match press conference with Giggs and Williams

Ryan Giggs and Ashley Williams speak ahead of the vital Wales v Denmark clash on Friday night at the Cardiff City Stadium.

RYAN GIGGS

Facing Denmark:

“You prepare every game and you try to do it the right way.

“There’s a bit more edge, more pace, added concentration for this match. You want all the players to affect the game, whether that’s starting or coming from the bench.

“You recognise that Denmark have a good manager and a good set of players. But we want to concentrate on our strengths and not worry too much about the opposition.”

“I was more unhappy about the result last time because we were definitely in the game up until the penalty.

“Looking back, we caused them problems. Overall, I wasn’t too down about the performance, but we will need to play better tomorrow.”

“We’ve got across to the players what we want to get from the game.

“We gave them as much information as we could at the start of the week. These last couple of days it’s more relaxed and now we just want the players to go out there and express themselves.”

Christian Eriksen:

“He’s a fantastic player who was the difference over in Aarhus.

We are aware of his qualities, we have a plan to stop him but doing it will be key. He is the best player for Denmark without a shadow of a doubt.

“We have our qualities as well, but Eriksen is up there with the top Premier League performers.”

The possibility of winning the group:

“I think for everyone, the coaching staff, the players, fans – to be promoted to League A, you know next time we will be amongst the big boys in the draw. We want to test ourselves with the best.”

“There are lots of incentives for us to top the group. To finish first would be great because there’s a second bite of the cherry to qualify for EURO 2020 and our seeding overall gets pushed higher as well.

“It’s in our hands, but it’s not going to be easy because we’re up against a top class side.

“They are going to be tough to beat and they are undoubtedly a very good team.”

Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and any injuries:

“Gareth is good, he arrived a little bit later than the rest of the group, but he’s looking fine and ready this week.

“We had to give him a different program at the beginning of the week, but he is fine for tomorrow.”

“There aren’t any injury doubts, but it’s not ideal having withdrawals [Chris Mepham].

“George Thomas is not in the squad due to injury, and he will be 50/50 for Albania. Everyone else is fine.”

“Aaron is a quality player, he’s played enough this season, albeit in deeper roles.

“He has had enough games, just like Gareth Bale, he is fine.”

Being back at the Cardiff City Stadium:

“The players probably know more than me about the experiences here.

“We had a good result and performance last time against the Republic of Ireland, but it wasn’t full.

“With what’s at stake – we will need the crowd’s help to win the game.”

ASHLEY WILLIAMS

A “cup final” against Denmark:

“It feels a little bit like a final because we both want to win the group and we know what’s at stake if we do we win.

“We have a really good balance throughout the squad and the young players stand up like men.

“With the young players, they have valuable experience for the next set of games. We are in a good position now with one game left.”

“I think Eriksen is the obvious star of the Danish team, but they have a very good set of players throughout.

“It’ll be something that we will think about throughout the game for sure.”

“We need to play better than we did in the last game against them. Being at home gives us an extra bonus; we have a clear game plan with how to win this time.

“We’ve worked hard to get here and we want to finish it off properly and win the group.”

Playing at the Cardiff City Stadium:

“We are looking forward to it – a Friday night in Cardiff is always a special occasion under the lights. Hopefully, we can repay the fans with a win.

We have had a great relationship with the fans for years now and they have taken to the change of team and manager. Everyone seems to be enjoying it and long may it continue.”

Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey:

“Gareth is sharp and ready to go. He’s had a good week, he’s happy around the camp and he doesn’t have any complaints.

“There will be two world-class players on show [Bale and Eriksen], we understand how good he is and Denmark will as well.”

“For us, Ramsey is one of the most important players for the team. He gives us something a little bit different, he is a leader and essential for us.

“We obviously want all of our most experienced players on the field at all times.

“A lot of big teams will be interested in him, I haven’t spoken to him about it [being linked with Bayern Munich], but it’s not surprising with the qualities he possesses.”

Follow the blog on Twitter to receive the latest updates on Welsh football.

Read more:
• Wales Watch: Gwion Edwards, Hal Robson-Kanu and Joel Lynch among the goals
• Ryan Giggs speaks at the squad announcement ahead of Denmark and Albania
• Wales Watch: James Chester’s heroics were the highlight of the weekend 

Ryan Giggs speaks at the squad announcement ahead of Denmark and Albania

Ryan Giggs announced his squad for the final Nations League clash against Denmark and an away friendly in Albania to finish 2018. The biggest surprise was the call-up of the unknown defender, James Lawrence. Neil Taylor returns to the squad, as does Dan James and Tom Lockyer.

Who is James Lawrence?

“We were made aware of him over the last six months or so. He’s played the majority of his career abroad.

“Albert [Stuivenberg] has watched him a couple of times, I’m looking to see him up close in training.”

“He fits the profile of what I want to play, he’s good with the ball at his feet. He’s playing regular football and fits exactly how we want to play.”

“His grandmother is from Haverfordwest, that’s how he qualifies for Wales.

“Someone at the Welsh FA made us aware of him, we will always check them out and see if they’re good enough.”

Chris Gunter potentially winning record caps this month:

“When he does get there [93 caps] and beats the record, it’ll be a fantastic achievement. He is someone who deserves all the plaudits he gets.

“He’s been brilliant to have around the squad, a good pro and is ready to be called upon like he did against Ireland. He’s a valuable member.”

“There’s great competition for places – during the week in training; it’s what I had as a player and we have that in our camp at the moment.

“It will be on my mind for Chris to break the record against Albania, but we have to look at the overall picture. Whether it will be in November or March we will have to wait and see.”

Neil Taylor’s return:

“Taylor has been unlucky for the past few squads, I know him and have played with him.

“He’s a popular member of the squad and playing regular football for Aston Villa. It gives Ben Davies a chance to have a rest over that period [because of his suspension].”

“Ben was disappointed not to be involved with Albania, but there’s a chance for him to take part in light training with Tottenham and get some rest.

“He’s played constantly since the summer, so it will be good for him to have a break.”

“Paul Dummett and Neil Taylor are very good replacement players for us to have when Ben is not available.

“Paul would have played in the last set of matches, it’s a shame he had to pull out because of his injury.”

Tough time for Gareth Bale in Spain:

“I’ve not seen many of the Real Madrid games this season, but we’re talking about a world-class player who never lets his country down. Hopefully, he’ll be meeting with us on Sunday.”

“He doesn’t need extra help, he’s been at Madrid for 5 years, I had stick at times at Man Utd. That’s something Gareth is used to dealing with.”

“He can’t wait to join up with the lads and be a part of the game. He’s an experienced player, he’s been there and experienced most things as a player.”

Dan James’ excellent form and embedding young players:

“He’s on fire at the moment and he’s someone who has got genuine pace. He’s exciting and he could start or act as an impact sub.

“We had him in the training camp before Mexico, he was unlucky to not travel to LA, but it will be good to have him with us now.”

“You always want players joining the squad who are playing regularly, especially forward players; if they’re confident and doing well it can make the difference.”

“It’s important to get the balance of the squad right [with youth and experience]. Exposing the younger players to play against Ireland in Dublin and Spain at home will hopefully stand us in good stead.”

“You saw with Matt Smith who made the mistake early on, he was helped by the more experienced players through the game.”

Matt Smith potentially missing Albania for a club game:

“That’s something we have to monitor in the next week or so.

“It’s a juggling act because we have a massive game on the Friday against Denmark and he’s a huge part of our squad.”

“We’ll have dialogue with Matty and the club and see how it goes.”

A chance to win the Nations League group v Denmark:

“I already knew they were a very good team, but we were in the game up until the penalty.

“It’ll be tough for us and Denmark, but we’re back at the CCS with a great atmosphere. It’s a really important game for us because we have a chance to win the group.

“I’m looking forward to it, as are the players to make it as difficult as possible for Denmark.”

“We are looking for the players to perform, it is a cup final – if we win, we top the group. There’s another chance for the Euro’s, we’ll be in Pot A and there’ll be financial rewards as well.”

“I’ve really enjoyed the Nations League, the fans have as well because it’s been really competitive.

“Like I’ve said, it gives us a big opportunity to win things if we win this game.”

Follow the blog on Twitter to receive the latest updates on Welsh football.

Read more:
• Wales Watch: James Chester’s heroics were the highlight of the weekend
• The Welsh Wingers are on fire 
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Chris Mepham is “loving” his season with Wales and Brentford

In an interview with Chris Mepham this week, he spoke about his Wales & Brentford career so far, the prospect of facing Spain, the players he looks up to most and the help he’s received with his sleeping schedule. 

How Wales is helping him and other youngsters

“You are wrapped around world-class players and get that experience of being in and around the senior team, which is only good for my development.

“Also when you take it back to your club, having that confidence and spring in your step every week is helpful.”

“The style we play with Wales helps with club football because some of the training sessions we do here are similar to what we do back at Brentford.

“Both managers have a similar style in terms of playing attractive football, playing through the thirds and building up from the back. That helps me and feels quite natural to me.”

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Mepham recognises the importance of being surrounded with experience, especially as a central defender. He admits it’s very good to have those older heads mixed with the younger ones for competition.

“Ash [Williams] and James [Chester] help me a lot. When you come away you have to make the most of the people around and speak to them and see how they organise people on the pitch.

“That is one thing that has impressed me with Ash. You see his leadership qualities and Chezzy is the same; you can always learn from people like that and it is only going to help.”

“I like to think it is good competition with the younger players because the manager gives youth a chance to make their own place.

“But also for the senior professionals to have someone underneath competing will only help them and keep them motivated. It is positive for both.”

Personal progress

“It has taken me by surprise, it has been happening so quickly. It is hard to reflect on how fast it has gone because it seems training and games are coming thick and fast without having to think about the last 12 months.

“I am loving it. I am really enjoying it.”

“The physicality of the Championship, that is one area I have struggled with.

“Playing against big strikers every week and ones who use their body really well. I need to get better at that.

“When we play Spain on Thursday it is not going to be as direct, but it is obviously good to experience both sides of it for my development.”

Facing Spain and the Principality Stadium

Mepham pauses to think about the prospect of coming up against Chelsea striker, Alvaro Morata and co.

“It is everyone’s goal to be marking top players every week.

“In the Championship I don’t have the luxury of marking world-class players, so if it does happen [marking Morata] it would be amazing.”

“There’s that bit of pressure I will face, which you wouldn’t necessarily face for Brentford.

“Especially because I’ve not been involved that long, so I have to come in and express myself quickly. I have to show to the manager why I should be in the team.

“Also, we are playing to win every game we play and hopefully do well in the Nations League.”

Mepham admits he’s never been to the Principality Stadium and his training session there on Wednesday morning would have been the first time. He would have been 4-years-old when Wales beat Italy 2-1 in 2002.

“I think Mexico would have been the biggest stadium I’ve played in, but this will be up there if I do play.

“Again it will be another good experience to play in front of that crowd.

“I am not too sure I have ever been the Millennium [Principality] Stadium. It will be a good opportunity to go and play there.”

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Heroes when growing up

“When I was younger it was probably John Terry.

“When I was at Chelsea, Terry was playing at the time and we sometimes went to Stamford Bridge to watch a game. He was always someone I was keeping an eye on.

“Even in the late stages of his career I watched a lot of him and saw how much of a leader he is around the team. He is a good person to watch.”

“Now, John Stones is a player I watch a lot. Most days I look at Stones’ performance clips.

“I would like to aspire to be like him. He has a similar build to me and I would like to think I base myself on being confident on the ball and composed.”

“Our analyst at Brentford has access to Wyscout, which is where all the club matches get uploaded, and then players can get access to it.

“You go on there and you can pull different categories like aerial duels, passing, clearances, heading. I try to watch as many different ones as I can.

“I think with someone like John Stones, a lot of his work is done during build-up play with passing. It is good to watch his movement when he receives the ball. That is what I base parts of my game on.”

Help from a sleeping coach

“I have been very much involved [with the coaching]. I must admit I have had problems sleeping.

“Not really badly, but it is an area as a professional footballer you have to have good sleep every night – especially when you have a game on a Saturday. You need your 8-9 hours sleep.”

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“For a couple weeks I wasn’t getting that proper amount of sleep and it was important for me to speak to someone.

“Luckily, we had someone at the club who was brought in called Anna. She has worked closely with me over the last couple of months.

“She has given me a few tips – reading books and to rest my mind at night. I have tried to take that on board. I couldn’t tell you the name of the book but it is working.”

“I don’t play video games. I do have a phone, but it is hard to stay off your phone!”

“I am feeling the benefits definitely.”

Follow the blog on Twitter to receive the latest news regarding Welsh football.

Read more:
• Giggs and Williams speak ahead of clash with Spain
• Harry Wilson eager to fulfil childhood dream 
• Everything you need to know about Joe Rodon – the latest Wales call-up 
• Ramsey and Brooks hit form at the perfect time 
• Mitchell Clark “surprised” at not being named in the Wales U21 squad 
• Ryan Giggs announces his squad for the fixtures against Spain and Rep. of Ireland 

Giggs and Williams speak ahead of clash with Spain

Ryan Giggs and Ashley Williams spoke to the media this morning ahead of the friendly match against Spain at the Principality Stadium. They speak about Gareth Bale missing out, playing at the Principality Stadium and the younger players keen to make their mark. 

RYAN GIGGS

Gareth Bale missing the game

“Bale is extremely doubtful for tomorrow with muscle fatigue, it’s not serious just monitoring it. There is every chance he will be available for Tuesday against Ireland. It’s 50/50 at the moment we don’t want to take risks.

“If he’s able to play on Tuesday then great, but my mind is just on Spain at the moment and then I will concentrate on Ireland.”

“We are in conversation with Madrid, but it’s nothing serious. It’s what is best for everyone involved.

“The medial team are in constant dialogue with every club, so that’s no different.

“He had a scan a couple of weeks ago. We rescanned him and done everything we could to get as much information. We’re treating it symptom wise as well, he feels good but we have to weigh up the risk.”

“With him playing club football in Spain he wants to be a part of it obviously, but first and foremost we want him to be fit for Ireland.”

“Gareth doesn’t have to be 100% to play, but when they are small injuries it’s difficult because sometimes in a short turnaround. We’ll take no chances, but if he is available on Tuesday then great.”

Other options in the squad

“We have other striking options in Vokes, Lawrence, Roberts – all can play up top. Or we can play two up top.

“We need the options because Gareth won’t always be there, that was something I was aware of and we needed something different to not rely on top players all the time.

“We need a plan B if our best players aren’t available, but even if they are available we want them to be pushed in training for their place.”

“Nothing has changed our plan, we want to win the game tomorrow, but it is a friendly.”

“Three points on Tuesday are to be had against Rep. of Ireland and we have five days in between to prepare, so there’s a bit more leeway.

“We will try and give everyone minutes tomorrow, with a mind on Tuesday as well.”

Younger players

“I think they’ll be fine because they did really well, especially in the first game. From my perspective it’s exciting, a new stage, a new venue.

“Like always, I want them to express themselves. If they’re in the team it’s for a reason, so I will ask the same of them and don’t expect anything different.”

Playing at the Principality Stadium

“The roof is closed and that was our decision. I enjoyed it as a player and it creates a good atmosphere – something different for many of our players.”

“I was excited when we had the chance to play here, I’ve had happy memories here as well as some not so happy ones.

“It’s a great stadium right in the middle of the city, the view, the pitch is magnificent – maybe too good. We want a good football match to test ourselves against a very good team.”

“We’re lucky that we have so many different stadiums to choose from, Cardiff and Swansea in recent times.

“In every game we think about where the best place to play is, we’re lucky but we take it game to game really.”

Facing Spain

“They have a new manager and were very impressive last month against England and Croatia.

“We’re in for a tough game but an exciting one and a chance for our players to play against in the best in the world.”

“In the last international break we played very well and that’s the standard we set. We dropped against Denmark so there’s things we can work on but if we play to the standard last time against Ireland we’ll do well.

“We’re in for a tough game and we have to play like that [Ireland] again.”

ASHLEY WILLIAMS

Gareth Bale missing out

“Yeah obviously it’s a blow, he’s our best player. He’s here in the group but we will miss him on the pitch, but it’s a great chance for someone to step in and show what they’ve got.

“We want him available for as many games as possible, but it’s something we have to deal with.”

“I’m sure he’s frustrated like everyone is when they get injured, but he’s been laughing and joking and seems okay.

“He suffers a lot of injuries but he deals with it fine.”

“He’ll be in the dressing room tomorrow to help the boys as much as possible.”

“The gaffer wanted me in the dressing room to help out when I missed the Denmark game. I was fine with that and we will go with what he says.”

Facing Spain

“It’s a good game against Spain, a few of the lads have played here before. It’s why you play football, it’s a good test and challenge. This is the type of test you’d want.

“The Spain team are in a bit of a transition stage, a lot of the world-class players have moved on and retired.

“It will still be a challenge. They’re a team with quality everywhere like they showed against England and Croatia last month.”

“We will try and implement our game and see what happens. We must make sure we’re not to get frustrated without the ball.

They will have a lot of the possession, so it will be an interesting challenge.”

“Whenever you can get on the field and get more caps and experience it’s great.

“It’s a chance for all of us to play again together, different lads as well. We’ll find out the team tomorrow, whenever you play against quality it’ll be a test.”

Strength in depth

“It’s the strongest squad that I’ve seen since I’ve been involved with Wales.

“You have to be doing well for your club to play. We have a few players ready to step in at anytime.

“It’s probably two elevens that can go out and be very strong; the strength in depth is fantastic.”

“From what we’ve seen already the younger players seem to be a good set of lads, down to earth and always listening.

“Talent wise an unbelievable set of players, we are just trying to fuse together and see what happens.”

On new call-up Joe Rodon: “He’s doing well I know him from Swansea. He’s a nice kid and we made him sing again.

“He sang something, I cant remember what it was but it was rubbish anyway!”

Playing at the Principality Stadium again

“It’s impressive when you go out there, the roof is closed and it has changed a bit since I was here last.

“It’s something different for a lot of the guys, a few of us have played with the roof closed but everyone wants to play some part tomorrow.”

“I played a few games here and as a pro you want to play in the best stadiums in the world and this is definitely one of them.

“We are expecting more fans and they will make a lot of noise and give us that help we need.”

“It won’t be full, so it will be a different atmosphere [to the CCS]. The Cardiff City Stadium feels like home, we are always keen to play matches there.

“It’s a friendly here and I’m sure the fans will come out and make a lot of noise.”

Follow the blog on Twitter to receive the latest news regarding Welsh football.

Read more:
• Harry Wilson eager to fulfil childhood dream
• Everything you need to know about Joe Rodon – the latest Wales call-up 
• Ramsey and Brooks hit form at the perfect time 
• Mitchell Clark “surprised” at not being named in the Wales U21 squad 
• Ryan Giggs announces his squad for the fixtures against Spain and Rep. of Ireland 

Harry Wilson eager to fulfil childhood dream

Harry Wilson spoke to the press this week ahead of the matches against Spain and Rep. of Ireland. He talks about his progress with club and country, playing at the Principality Stadium for the first time, the competition in the squad and his free-kick practice.

Loan spells with Derby and Hull and a return to the Wales setup:

“It has been a really good start to the season overall. This year with Derby has been great and being a regular pick for the Wales squads too, I’m delighted.

“It was frustrating for me that I picked up an injury last month and missed four or five games, but now I’ve come back and I’m playing well and feeling fit and strong.”

“Lampard has been great. I spoke to him on the phone before I went there and the way he spoke and what he told me about how he wanted his team to play made me realise it was the right club for me.

“Since I’ve been there I’ve learned a lot and his coaches help me too. The way we’ve played in the last month or so has shown how we’ve progressed as a team.”

Wilson stresses that going out on loan was vital for his progress and experience as a footballer. He mentions the wonderful loan spell he had at Hull for five months in 2018.

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“Earlier in the year, I was desperate to get out on loan and get some senior appearances in. When Hull came calling I thought it would be a great move for me.

“I managed to score some goals and get some assists [for Hull], got my call-up to the Wales squad and my full debut, as well as my first international goal.”

“Being a regular selection for Wales squads now is great and I want to stay here.”

Making Wales debut and the hot competition

Wilson is smiling as he’s chatting and is clearly enjoying his lifestyle at the moment. He recognises that patience is key when you’re a young footballer and understands the frustrations Ben Woodburn is currently having at Sheffield United, as he experienced a similar spell at Crewe.

“I made my Wales debut at a very young age. Chris Coleman showed his faith in me by putting me in at 16.

“I didn’t get an appearance for Wales for a few years after that, but I think when you’re that young you’ve got to be patient and learn your trade on the football ladder.”

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“We all know the quality that Ben [Woodburn] has. He’s not playing regularly at the minute, which I suppose he wants like every player does.

“He will come out of the other side as a stronger player. When he gets his chance I’m sure he’ll perform.”

Competition in every position is key to a successful team and Wilson’s strongest position as a wide attacker is filled with mouthwatering options – Bale, Brooks, Woodburn, Lawrence, not to mention being coached by one of the world’s best left-midfielders ever.

“I think it’s a good competition to have, as we all know the qualities each other have. We’re all a similar age as well, so we’re learning these experiences together.”

“To have the manager that we’ve got, who played in the same position means that we’re learning every day.

“He doesn’t join in too much on the training ground, but when he does you can see his touch, his passing and his vision is still there definitely.”

Free kick specialist

As well as becoming a competent winger, he also demonstrated a superb free kick technique against Manchester United in the Carabao Cup a couple of weeks ago – executing it to perfection, to the level of Bale or Ronaldo’s quality.

“If Gareth isn’t on the pitch for one reason or another I’ll be putting my name forward, and then depending on where the free kick is on the pitch – hopefully I’ll be able to take it.”

“I just think that if the free kick is as far out as what it was [against Manchester United], it’s a bit too far to curl it, so I think it’s important to have a couple of techniques in your locker just in case the free kick is a bit further out.”

“I try and spend a bit of time after training with a couple of the lads trying to get that free kick technique, so to see it come off on the big stage was nice.”

“I think a lot of players try and replicate that technique, but only a couple have perfected it – Gareth [Bale] being one and [Cristiano] Ronaldo the other.”

Playing at the Principality Stadium

“It’s a stadium I’ve always wanted to play at. I was there a couple of times when I was younger as a fan.

“The last game I went to was the England game in 2011. I remember sitting there seeing a full house and one day wishing that would be me. Hopefully, that day will be on Thursday.”

International Football - UEFA Euro 2012 - Qualifying Group G - Wales v England

“The Cardiff City Stadium has done us well. Some of the performances we’ve put in there and the atmosphere that’s been generated there has been great.

“I think the change can be good; more fans can go and get the chance to watch us and we’re hoping to put on a good performance for them.”

On the prospect of playing against Spain on Thursday, Wilson says he was a massive admirer of the Barcelona team ten years ago. This was a Barcelona side that included the Spanish talents of Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and Carles Puyol, to name a few.

“I watched Barcelona a lot when I was growing up, from 2008 onwards I’d say. Watching them on European nights and most league games, they were phenomenal.”

Wilson’s flatmate and Derby teammate, Mason Mount, was called up to the England squad last week and they will face Spain next week, after Wales’ match.

“I’ll message Mason [Mount] after the game and ask him how he’s getting on and I’m sure he’ll do the same with me. If he asks for any secrets about Spain, I’ll tell him no problem.”

Follow the blog on Twitter to receive the latest news regarding Welsh football.

Read more:
• Everything you need to know about Joe Rodon – the latest Wales call-up
• Ramsey and Brooks hit form at the perfect time 
• Mitchell Clark “surprised” at not being named in the Wales U21 squad 
• Ryan Giggs announces his squad for the fixtures against Spain and Rep. of Ireland 
• Wales Watch: Tyler Roberts shines again for Leeds in midweek 

Mitchell Clark “surprised” at not being named in the Wales U21 squad

Welsh full-back, Mitchell Clark was omitted from Robert Page’s Wales U21 squad. Clark is currently on loan at Port Vale from Aston Villa and playing regularly for the League Two club. 

In an exclusive interview with Behind the Goal, Clark speaks about his current career with Port Vale and his dissatisfaction with not being included in any Wales U21 squad.

19-year-old Clark played 90 minutes at right-back on Saturday in a 1-1 home draw with Exeter, a game that Rob Page watched from the stands.

“The game against Exeter on Saturday was one of my better matches this season. It’s my first loan from Villa and I think I’ve been performing very well,” explained Clark.

“I knew after the game that Rob Page was there, but I had no contact with him at the game or after it.

Clearly frustrated by the lack of chances, “I haven’t been picked for the U21’s again, so it’s obvious the manager doesn’t fancy me and I’m not in his [Page’s] plans.”

Rob Page named 3 full-backs in his 19-man squad to face Romania and Switzerland, including Rhys Norrington-Davies, 19 (Sheff Utd), Cameron Coxe, 19 (Cardiff) and Aaron Lewis, 20 (Swansea) – none of which are playing senior football at the moment.

“I’ve got Cameron Coxe, who is suspended [for the first match against Romania] and Aaron Lewis at Swansea, who is playing really well,” said Page.

“Clark is still a young one and he’s still developing. He can play at full-back on both sides and we’ve good competition in those areas.

“He will get his opportunity but it might be with the U19’s to start with.”

Clark was left confused by Page’s decision because he has already played 8 times for Wales U19’s between 2016-2017. He was named in the 2017 squad for the Toulon Tournament, but withdrew, along with David Brooks and Rhys Norrington-Davies.

He last played for Wales U19’s in the Euro Qualifier against Turkey, where Paul Bodin was in charge. He also captained Wales U19’s last year and really wants to kick on for the U21’s.

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“I was very surprised to not be named, but I’m not disappointed because it gives me more of a chance to concentrate on club football with Port Vale now.”

When asked about his aspirations to play for the senior squad: “I played with some of the lads who are in the senior squad – Ethan Ampadu, Tyler Roberts and those boys.

“They’ve obviously gone above and made the step up, so the pathway and the chances are there for the players.”

Clark has played 9 times in Port Vale’s 11 league matches this season, who are positioned in sixteenth place in League Two. Port Vale will play Grimsby Town away on Saturday 6th October.

He has a year left on his current deal with Aston Villa, with a 12-month extension option.

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Read more:
• Ryan Giggs announces his squad for the fixtures against Spain and Rep. of Ireland
• Wales Watch: Tyler Roberts shines again for Leeds in midweek 
• What needs to be done to end Cardiff’s winless campaign? 
• Three Welsh players net their first club goals this season 
• Wales Watch: Harry Wilson shows his quality in the League Cup 
• Wales Watch: Ramsey and Wilson hit form 

Ryan Giggs announces his squad for the fixtures against Spain and Rep. of Ireland

Wales manager, Ryan Giggs named his 25-man squad ahead of the friendly v Spain and Nations League match v Republic of Ireland. This announcement didn’t draw too many surprises, other than Joe Rodon’s omission after his excellent form for Swansea.

The difficulty of picking players:

“It was straightforward this time because I was happy with the last camp. Tom Lockyer and Joe Ledley are injured at the moment, so they are the two players who are left out.”

“I feel as though Joe Rodon is best to go with Rob Page because I think Jazz Richards was a better fit to this squad. I have spoken to him in last few camps and he was unlucky to miss out on the last set of matches. Picking Jazz over Joe was the only real difficulty I had because Jazz isn’t getting regular games at Cardiff.”

Friendly with Spain at the Principality Stadium:

“Every player’s motivation will be high. Playing for your country, playing against a good team and a chance to test yourself at the Principality Stadium. It will be something different for the players, but they will be ready for the challenge.

“It will be getting the balance right for the competitive and more important game against Ireland, but also the players will be desperate to be involved against a top side in Spain.

“It’s my decision to analyse our players and make a decision on who is to play for both games. It’s possible that the team picked for the Ireland game could be a lot different to the Spain team.”

“We felt this game gave us a good opportunity to play in a bigger stadium. A lot of the players haven’t played there so it will be a fantastic occasion in a stadium where I have many happy memories – my favourite being the win against Italy and coming off the pitch in an unbelievable atmosphere.”

“I recognise that we have a great record at the Cardiff City Stadium. We’re not dismissing the Liberty or the Racecourse for future games either. For every game we need to have different options looking forward.”

Aaron Ramsey’s current situation:

“Ramsey won’t be affected when he comes with us. From what I saw from him last time when he met up, he was a fantastic player and a top professional.

“I don’t expect it [the contractual negotations] to impact his performances with Wales. All I’m concentrating on is a player who comes and gives his all with fantastic qualities.”

“He’s a good player so he’d be suitable to play in any league. But at the moment he’s an Arsenal player and he will be fully concentrating on that, it’s pure speculation at the moment.”

“I haven’t spoken to him yet about his wife having a baby. I don’t like to speak to players when they have games on the weekend, but in the next couple of days or so I will be in touch with Aaron about his personal situation.”

Gareth Bale’s minor injury and game time next week:

“Gareth had a groin strain on the weekend, but the scan was clear. He expects to play on Saturday evening for Real Madrid.

“You want a good relationship with all the clubs, especially with Gareth at Madrid. Every game is huge for a club of that size – how many minutes he plays, how often he trains etc. Ideally, I want him to play every minute, but that’s not possible.”

“Gareth Bale will be presented with an honour before the game against Spain next week for becoming Wales’ highest goalscorer. Make sure you get there early!”

The game against Rep. of Ireland in Dublin:

“It’s not easy for the quick turnaround, we should be fresh after our Spain match.

“I don’t think our game against Denmark was down to fatigue – we just didn’t have the length of time to prepare like we did for Ireland.”

“I respect Martin as a manager and I expect a backlash performance. When you get beat as a player, you want to rectify that so I expect a difficult game. If we play to the level that we did in the first game we’ll be fine.”

“The reception from the fans in Cardiff against Ireland was what dreams were made of. But our last game was against Denmark and we got beat and we need to improve on a lot of things. We have to get back to what we’re good at.”

When asked about Roy’s snub at the end of the game in Cardiff: “Roy, like me, is a winner so I expect him to have some reaction and there are no hard feelings.

“I was with him last week in Cork for Liam Miller’s memorial match. We were as normal as ever.”

Ethan Ampadu’s future:

“He is getting matches at U23 level, but it’s difficult as we’ve seen with Wilson and Woodburn [at Liverpool] to see where these players will get their games.

“I was more than pleased with how he turned up in the last camps. He’s only just turned 18 so he has plenty of time at a top club in Chelsea.

“Ethan can be anything he wants to be; what a player and character to have. A manager’s dream, but again, he’s only 18.”

Andy King picked despite not playing a game for Leicester:

“He’s frustrated with not playing at Leicester. It’s about seeing how the players turn up, of course, you want players playing regularly.

“He’s a good pro and looks after himself. Whether he plays 30 mins, an hour or not at all, we’ll assess that as good as we can do.”

Attacking quality in numbers:

He jokes: “I’m impressed with Tyler [Roberts] scoring but not with Harry [Wilson] scoring [against Manchester United last week].

“Sam Vokes scored for Burnley at the weekend. We want players coming into the camp scoring goals, it brings great competition to the camp.”

“I have no concerns regarding Ben Woodburn, he’s just not getting regular games at Sheffield United currently.

“Sometimes a loan works out sometimes it doesn’t, he can come through this and be a better player. It’s up to Ben now, he’s got the quality to perform.”

“David Brooks is another player I enjoy coaching, he can do things out of the ordinary. When you get your chance, you have to take it and he has at Bournemouth.”

A future Team GB:

“Without getting into the details, in my experience in 2012, it was fantastic. Whatever the FAW have with regards to the women is up to them.”


 

I also spoke with Wales U21 manager, Robert Page. You can view what he said on the blog’s Twitter feed – www.twitter.com/behindthegoal16

Read more:
• Mitchell Clark “surprised” at not being named in the Wales U21 squad
• Wales Watch: Tyler Roberts shines again for Leeds in midweek
• What needs to be done to end Cardiff’s winless campaign? 
• Three Welsh players net their first club goals this season 
• Wales Watch: Harry Wilson shows his quality in the League Cup 
• Wales Watch: Ramsey and Wilson hit form 

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