Wales will take on Hungary tonight in another crucial qualifier as they aim to reach Euro 2020 and repeat the success that they had at Euro 2016. However, their squad has changed and improved since then and now it is a new wave of youngsters who will be hoping to fire Ryan Giggs’ side to the major tournament.
Daniel James, after his big move to Manchester United is now one of the shining lights of the Welsh team and at just 21-years-old he has a long time left in his career to fulfil his high potential. Ahead of the crunch European qualifier against Hungary, the manager Marco Ross has heaped the praise onto the United winger, comparing him to a rather famous Olympic sprinter:
“James’ speed reminds of Usain Bolt – to be so fast like him is really incredible. In the last 10 years I don’t remember one player that gave me this sensation. His acceleration is so peculiar, which is why Manchester United have bought him.”
Giggs has managed to blend a few experienced players such as Gareth Bale, Joe Allen and Ben Davies with this new crop of youngsters and it has lead to a squad that should be in with a shout of making it to Euro 2020.
David Brooks, another 21-year-old, had an outstanding breakthrough season with Bournemouth and has carried that form into these international games. A goal against Croatia last time out was not enough to salvage a point but it should give him confidence heading into future fixtures.
Another attacking option is Liverpool’s Harry Wilson who had a standout season on loan at Derby last season, leading them to within 90 minutes of the Premier League. He was part of the side who lost the play-off final to Aston Villa but still produced 15 goals over the course of the Championship season and is clearly a rising star. If he can force himself into the Liverpool first team or enjoy a Premier League loan next season he is sure to be a mainstay of this Wales team.
It isn’t all attacking talent though. Another Bournemouth man Chirs Mepham is a rock at the back and as another 21-year-old has at least a decade left of international football to come. He will hopefully be a regular in the top flight next season and give Giggs a reliable option at the heart of the defence.
Alongside him, they could field Chelsea youngster Ethan Ampadu who is featuring more and more for his national team. A good loan spell for him next season could give him the experience he needs to become a first choice central defender for his country. Swansea right-back Connor Roberts is just 23 but became a regular for his club last campaign and now looks to have secured that position in the Welsh set-up under Giggs.
This wave of young Welsh talent certainly has a whole lot of promise and has the talent to make it to Euro 2020. If they are managed correctly and play fearless attacking football they could cause trouble for any of the top sides in Europe. Tonight’s vital game against Hungary will be the perfect place to showcase this.