Angharad James Takes Wales Armband . . . But Only To Face Ukraine

CARDIFF, WALES - OCTOBER 06: Angharad James of Wales controls the ball during the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup play-off round 1 match between Wales and Bosnia and Herzegovina at Cardiff City Stadium on October 06, 2022 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Angharad James Takes Wales Armband . . . But Only To Face Ukraine


By Gareth James

Angharad James will captain Wales against Ukraine in Friday’s Euro 2025 qualifier, but may not get the job on a full-time basis.

Wales have been without a permanent skipper since Sophie Ingle stepped down after Rhian Wilkinson’s first game in charge, a 4-0 victory over Croatia in their opening Euro 2025 qualifier last month.

The Chelsea midfielder had been in the role since 2015, and Jess Fishlock marked her 150th cap by wearing the armband in the 6-0 win in Kosovo a few days later.

The captaincy has now passed to James for Friday’s qualifier in Llanelli, but Wilkinson remains non-committal over who will lead Wales out against Ukraine in Poland on Tuesday.

“I respect the armband too much and what Sophie did, to just give it to the next person,” Wilkinson said.

“So many players will wear it in the next while and we’ll see what happens naturally without it being forced.

“I watch Angharad look after the young ones, inviting them into the groups, making sure they’re comfortable and settled.

“She’s a real leader for this group and is definitely deserving of the honour.”

Seattle Reign midfielder James will win her 119th cap at Parc y Scarlets the day before she turns 30.

“It’s one of the biggest honours to captain your country, to lead the girls out,” said James, who wore the armband when Ingle was suspended for the 2-0 friendly defeat to the United States in California in July 2023.

“One thing I will say is that this group is full of leaders. We’ve got leaders at every level.

“The more leaders we can have the better chance we have of qualifying and being a better team.”

Wales’ fast start to Euro qualifying has given them an early three-point lead in Group B4 over Croatia and Ukraine.

Wilkinson said: “Ukraine will be a great test for us. We’ve set a standard but we know there’s a lot to improve on.

“These games are important for me to bed in my philosophy and for the players to get used to me.

“It’s all in preparation for the play-offs and this is a new an opportunity to raise the bar and tighten up a few things we were loose on.

“I gave them a lot of leeway to explore what I was asking them to do. We’ve got to tighten up on that for stronger opposition – and Ukraine are certainly that.”


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