Axed Wales captain Ashley Williams has admitted the new broom are ready to sweep in and carry Wales to Euro 2020.
Williams – currently struggling for game time at Stoke City – has confessed he felt frustrated at being left out of Wales’ opening qualifier against Slovakia on Sunday.
But after coming on during the second half of the 1-0 victory, the 34-year-old central defender suggested a wind of change has blown through Ryan Giggs’ squad since he led the team to the semi-finals of Euro 2016.
“There wasn’t many caps in our team, bar a few players,” said the former Swansea City skipper who has been loaned out to Stoke by his parent club, Everton.
“So all the minutes they can get are important for them going forward. We are speaking a lot about the young lads, but it’s the whole group they are in.
“We don’t need to keep talking (about) whether they are ready. They’ve proven they can play and they are doing well for their teams every week. They’ve done the business.”
Manager Giggs fielded an inexperienced side against Slovakia with seven of the starting line-up having won fewer than 10 caps.
Only Gareth Bale, Ben Davies, Joe Allen and Wayne Hennessey were in the squad that reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016 in France.
Giggs put veteran defender Williams on the bench and paired inexperienced centre-halves Chris Mepham and James Lawrence for the Group E win in Cardiff.
Bale wore the armband but Giggs said Williams – who came on in the final quarter to win his 85th cap and draw level with Gary Speed as his country’s third-most capped player – remains Wales’ captain and is “part of the plans going forward”.
But Giggs admitted Williams found it difficult being dropped for such an important fixture, saying: “You’re never going to take it well.”
On his omission, Williams said: “He (Giggs) explained it. He’s the manager and he makes the decisions.
“It is frustrating but he’s the manager and you go with it. It’s about the squad and when you’re called upon. It’s always been that.
“Obviously it’s disappointing not to play, but you just have to be ready when needed to try and get it over the line.”
Williams, who turns 35 in August, is in the final months of his Everton contract and is set to leave Goodison Park this summer.
He has spent the season on loan at Stoke and made 31 appearances for the Sky Bet Championship club.
But he has not started for Stoke since a 2-0 league defeat at Hull on February 2, although he did play an hour of Wales’ friendly victory over Trinidad & Tobago in Wrexham last Wednesday.
“It’s frustrating that I’m not playing at Stoke, but I’ll just try and keep doing the best I can,” Williams “I want to play and I’ll work hard and get back in the team, same here (with Wales) as well.
“It’s something that happens to every footballer at some point. I’ve been fortunate that it hasn’t happened up to me until now, but whatever’s required, I know only one way to go about my business.
“That’s to go to work every day and that’s what I’ll continue to do.”
But Williams insists that the youngsters – including Swansea match-winner Daniel James – have proven that they are capable of making their mark at international level.