Euro 2024 qualifiers: Aaron Ramsey named new Wales captain

Tue, Mar 14, 2023
By editor


AARON Ramsey will replace Gareth Bale as Wales captain with Ben Davies becoming vice-captain.

Wales men’s record scorer and top appearance-maker Bale announced his retirement from football in January.

Wales boss Rob Page has selected four uncapped players in his squad for the upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers against Croatia and Latvia.

Jordan James, Nathan Broadhead and Ollie Cooper could win first caps, as could 17-year-old forward Luke Harris.

Millwall striker Tom Bradshaw’s fine form sees him called up for the first time in five years.

Nice midfielder Ramsey, now the most-capped outfield player in the squad, is fit and available and Page said he was the natural choice to become Wales’ new captain.

“Aaron was vice-captain behind Gareth and to me it’s the natural progression,” Page said.

“While we’ve still got someone of his quality in the squad it was the natural decision.

“Aaron took it hard after the World Cup like we all did. But there was no doubt whatsoever about his future and wanting to play for Wales.”

Page added it was a close decision between picking Ramsey and Tottenham defender Davies, who will become Wales’ vice-captain.

“I see Ben Davies as a captain of the future and his role will be similar to that of Gareth and Aaron,” Page said.

This is the first Wales squad named since Bale announced his retirement from football.

Page said it is strange to announce a squad without Wales’ long-time talisman, but reiterated he expects him to remain involved.

“We will meet and have discussions, he is still interested. It’s been a big decision for him to make,” said Page.

“He still wants to be involved in whatever capacity it is – as long as I’m here I’d like Gareth to be a part of it. We appreciate his value and what he can offer.

“It’s strange. Gareth was an unbelievable servant and player and he will be missed.”

Wales will also go into the qualifiers without recent international retirees Joe Allen, Chris Gunter and Jonny Williams who have all announced their intention to focus on their club careers.

Aside from the retirees, Rubin Colwill, Mark Harris, Dylan Levitt and Matt Smith all miss out after featuring in Wales’ World Cup squad.

Jordan James, Nathan Broadhead, Luke Harris and Oli Cooper
Jordan James, Nathan Broadhead, Luke Harris and Oli Cooper could all be set to win their first Wales caps in a much-changed squad

Wales begin their European Championship qualifying campaign with a daunting trip to face World Cup semi-finalists Croatia on Saturday, 25 March, before hosting Latvia at the Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday, 28 March.

Wales have been drawn with Croatia, Latvia, Turkey and Armenia in Group D of Euro qualifying, as they aim to reach their third consecutive European Championship, which will be held in Germany next summer.

Bradshaw, 30, has scored 13 goals this season for Millwall and is the fifth-top scorer in the Championship, having been named the division’s player of the month for February.

Nottingham Forest duo Brennan Johnson and Wayne Hennessey are named in the squad despite injury concerns.

Johnson suffered a groin problem in Forest’s Premier League loss to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, with Forest boss Steve Cooper saying they “don’t know how bad” the injury is.

Forest goalkeeper Hennessey withdrew from the bench before kick-off in the 3-1 defeat by Spurs because of a knee problem.

Two of the uncapped players might be familiar names to Wales supporters – Birmingham midfielder James, 18, is the son of former Newport defender Tony James, and Swansea’s Cooper, 23, is former Cardiff City midfielder Kevin Cooper’s son.

Former Everton forward Broadhead, 24, is rewarded for his good form this term with Ipswich.

“We’ve reset and reframed after the World Cup,” Page added.

“We knew after the World Cup there was this evolution that would happen.

“I think there are no surprises in the lads we have brought in.”

Wales squad: Wayne Hennessey, Danny Ward, Adam Davies, Ben Davies, Neco Williams, Ben Cabango, Oliver Cooper, Tom Lockyer, Joe Rodon, Chris Mepham, Ethan Ampadu, Connor Roberts, Sorba Thomas, Jordan James, Nathan Broadhead, Wes Burns, Aaron Ramsey, Harry Wilson, Daniel James, Kieffer Moore, Luke Harris, Brennan Johnson, Tom Bradshaw.(BBCsport)