Ast. manager, Oslan Roberts: Ben Woodburn and Wales ready to take next step

Wales’ emerging youngsters are ready to compete for first-team places, according to assistant manager Osian Roberts.

Ben Woodburn, Ethan Ampadu and David Brooks all impressed as second-half substitutes in Friday’s 2-0 friendly defeat to France in Paris.

The talented trio could now start against Panama in Cardiff on Tuesday with Wales boss Chris Coleman keen to give them further experience ahead of the 2020 European Championship qualifiers.

“We have got some younger generation players who have been with us for a while now behind the scenes,” Roberts said.

“They have trained well, worked well in camps and the next logical step for them is to take that into the field.

“They have always been in the plan and are now ready to take the next step.

“It strengthens the squad and could be seen as a new cycle.

“But at the same time we are certainly not discarding anyone because the average age is pretty low without the younger players.”

While Liverpool forward Woodburn won his fifth cap in Paris, Chelsea midfielder Ampadu and Sheffield United striker Brooks made debuts at the Stade de France.

Ampadu and Brooks remain eligible to represent England as appearing in friendlies do not tie players to that particular country.

Coleman was relaxed in Paris when he was asked about their commitment to Wales, and Roberts was even more forthright about the issue.

“They are Welsh players. End of,” Roberts said.

“David has only been with us a few months, but Rob Page (Wales Intermediate manager) did a lot of work with him and looked after him in the right way.

“There are different pathways for these players and others like Ben and Ethan have come all the way from our regional programme at the age of 12.

“They have beaten France at under age level so they have got wonderful experiences to draw upon that will only help them in the future.”

Ampadu only turned 17 in September but he has played for Chelsea in the Carabao Cup this season and been on the bench for Premier League games.

He immediately caught the eye in Paris with his composure in possession and Coleman believes he has the versatility to operate as a holding midfielder or as a centre-back.

Wales midfielder Andy King said of Ampadu: “He has an intelligent head on his shoulders.

“You can tell he is training with world-class players every day at Chelsea, whether that be with their first team or development.

“Each day in training he is learning from them, so that is only going to bode well for his future.”

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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