By Gareth James
Aaron Ramsey is focused on joining Wales’ 100-cap club after being appointed skipper a decade after the “hurt” of losing the captaincy.
Ramsey has been given the armband ahead of Euro 2024 qualifiers against Croatia and Latvia, replacing Gareth Bale who retired from football in January having won a record 111 caps for the Wales men’s team.
The 32-year-old has won 78 caps and Page says Ramsey joining long-time teammates Bale, Chris Gunter and Wayne Hennessey as Wales centurions is a motivation for the Nice midfielder to prolong his international career.
“I think it could be a motivation for any player, you would want that milestone of getting to 100 caps,” Page said after also naming a 24-man squad and Tottenham defender Ben Davies as vice-captain for this month’s qualifiers.
“But for me I’ve got to strip the emotions out of it. I’ve got a world-class footballer and I’m going to use him while I’ve got him.
“Can he play at the top, top level, two consecutive games in a week? Probably not, we will have to manage that.”
Wales manager Rob Page selects four uncapped players in his squad for the upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiershttps://t.co/FFknrtILgc
— BBC Wales News (@BBCWalesNews) March 15, 2023
Ramsey has been Wales captain before, having been appointed at the age of 20 by the late Gary Speed in March 2011.
Speed’s successor Chris Coleman gave the armband to Ashley Williams in October 2012 to allow Ramsey to focus on his football.
Page said: “Aaron was vice-captain behind Gareth and it’s the natural progression to give him the armband.
“He has had so much more experience since the time before. That was part of my reasoning as well.
“To be given the armband and then have it taken off you, would have hurt him a little bit.
“He is in the right time of his career now to represent Wales and lead the boys out.
“He can show the players what it is all about to represent your country. He is relishing it and has embraced every minute of it.
“He is elated and that is why I know he is going to step up to the plate and absolutely deliver.”
As well as the departure of record scorer Bale – who Page confirmed has no involvement in an advisory capacity after previously suggesting that he might have – Gunter, Joe Allen and Jonny Williams have also retired from the international scene since Wales’ disappointing World Cup campaign.
Page has named four uncapped players in his squad for the trip to World Cup semi-finalists Croatia on March 25 and the home game with Latvia in Cardiff three days later.
Midfield trio Jordan James, Luke Harris and Ollie Cooper and striker Nathan Broadhead are all included.
Millwall striker Tom Bradshaw returns five years on from making his last appearance at the China Cup following a goal spree that saw him named the EFL Sky Bet Championship player of the month for February.
Tom Bradshaw is in Millwall's starting line up tonight for their Championship clash with Swansea… 👀
He was called up to the Wales squad for the first time in five years today 🏴 https://t.co/5hy2HUQyP9
— BBC Sport Wales (@BBCSportWales) March 14, 2023
In-form Nottingham Forest forward Brennan Johnson features despite picking up a groin strain at Tottenham on Saturday.
Page remains confident Johnson will be fit for the first-up Croatia clash, saying: “Our head of medical has been in contact with Forest and there is a plan for him.
“It’s probably a bit of fatigue with an accumulation of the minutes he has had to play in a tough and demanding league. But we’ll be sensible and make sure he’s in the right place for the matchday.”