New Wales Women’s manager’s first squad gives little hope for North Wales talent

Catrin Evans wore the red of Wales for Ynys Môn in the 2019 Inter-Island Games, but many feel she should be given a chance to don the same kit for her country. Picture: Dai Sinclair

Just one North Walian has made the 26-player squad selected for new Wales Women’s manager Gemma Grainger‘s first matches in charge.

Only Hawarden-born Elise Hughes represents the north for when Wales take on Canada and Denmark on Friday 9 and Tuesday 13 April.

The 19-year-old, who is 20 on April 15, is currently on loan at Blackburn Rovers from Everton and has made 12 full international appearances.

It does not seem too likely that any North Wales-based players will appear on Grainger’s radar, however long she is at the helm.

Predecessor Jayne Ludlow, who is Welsh, never really gave North Wales a look-in and the appointment of Grainger, from Leeds, does not inspire much hope that she will suddenly development an interest in Gogledd Cymru.

Basically, to get in the Welsh Women’s picture, you need to be based in South Wales or play for a club in the English pyramid.

True, we currently have no North Wales teams in our national league, which does not help the situation, but we do have a few good players worth a look, if not for the senior squad then certainly the under-19’s.

The likes of Catrin Evans (Amlwch Town) and Anest Haf Roberts (Bethel) are just two top young talents who deserve a chance at international level.

There are other quality North Walians playing in the English pyramid who seem invisible to the selectors, such as Hannah Keryakoplis, Shannon Dukes, currently in action in the USA, Olivia Fuller and Cassia Pike.

The FAW says that with Grainger less than a fortnight into the role, she has relied on coaching staff involved in February’s training camp to select the squad as she looks to prepare her side against two of the world’s top ranked sides.

Perhaps when she settles, she might be reminded that there are other players worthy of a chance who have not been picked before or who deserve another look.

For now, it looks like the same old names will continue to be picked, despite Wales’ failure to reach a major tournament finals, although it must be said the team’s results and performances have improved considerably in recent years.

The April matches will be a key part of Cymru’s preparation for the FIFA 2023 Women’s World Cup qualifying campaign, with the draw taking place on Friday 30 April.

Grainger’s reign will get underway against Canada at the Leckwith Stadium on Friday 9 April (KO 18:00) whilst the match at Denmark will take place at the Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday 13 April (KO 19:15). Both matches will be available to watch on the BBC Sport website and iPlayer.

Grainger said: “With the squad needing submitting only two days into the job, it was really important for me to utilize the existing staff from the February camp to select the squad.

“We want to play the higher-ranked nations and there’s no better test as we look to prepare for the World Cup qualifying campaign and the next four years.”

Cymru: Laura O’SULLIVAN (Cardiff City Ladies), Olivia CLARK (Coventry United), Poppy SOPER (Plymouth Argyle), Rhiannon ROBERTS (Liverpool), Gemma EVANS (Bristol City), Maria FRANCIS-JONES (Cardiff City Ladies), Charlie ESTCOURT (London Bees), Hayley LADD (Manchester United), Josie GREEN (Tottenham Hotspur), Elise HUGHES (Blackburn Rovers- On loan from Everton), Anna FILBEY (Celtic- On loan from Tottenham Hotspur), Sophie INGLE (Chelsea), Angharad JAMES (Reading), Jess FISHLOCK (Reading- On loan from OL Reign), Carrie JONES (Manchester United), Kayleigh GREEN (Brighton & Hove Albion), Natasha HARDING (Reading), Rachel ROWE (Reading), Helen WARD (Watford), Lily WOODHAM (Reading), Georgia WALTERS (Blackburn Rovers), Ffion MORGAN (Crystal Palace), Esther MORGAN (Tottenham Hotspur), Ceri HOLLAND (Liverpool), Bethan ROBERTS (Reading), Kylie NOLAN (Cardiff City Ladies).

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