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Jess Fishlock Hailed As Welsh Icon As She Moves Towards 150-Cap Landmark

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By Hannah Blackwell

Jess Fishlock has been been hailed as a Welsh football icon as she closes in on becoming the first player from Wales to reach 150 caps.

Fishlock will reach that landmark if she plays in both Wales’ upcoming Euro qualfiers against Croatia and Kosovo.

Wales manager Rhian Wilkinson has included 37-year-old Fishlock in an otherwise youthful-looking squad that includes five uncapped players – Soffia Kelly, Mayzee Davies, Elena Cole, Mared Griffiths and Ania Denham.

Fishlock will be attempting to guide Wales to a first tournament finals in 2025 when the campaign starts against Croatia next Friday, April 5, at Wrexham.

It could well be her final international finals opportunity as she will be 40 by the time of the next World Cup.

“I don’t think you can touch what she is in Wales, because she is iconic,” said Wilkinson.

“This is what I hope all of our young girls in Wales want to try to become.”

Fellow centurions Sophie Ingle and Angharad James have also been included in Wilkinson’s squad but both Safia Middleton-Patel and Carrie Jones were unavailable due to injury.

This will be Wilkinson’s first campaign in charge since she took over from the departed Gemma Grainger.

She added: “It is a wonderful opportunity to almost have a fresh start – they don’t need to start afresh with everything, but there is a new person here who is excited, maybe has different ideas and is ready to jump in with them.

“I’m very clear, this senior group of players will not qualify for the Euros without this youth movement.

“We need our young players to show up, to feel like this Welsh senior team is as much theirs as it is Sophie Ingle’s, Jess Fishlock’s.

“It’s their team as well, even though they may only have been there for six months, two weeks, a year.

“We need them to step on the field with the confidence to be able to deliver. My message to them is ask the questions you need to ask, show up, be brave and I’ll have their back, as I would to any player in camp.”

In a new format tournament, Wales are in League B and Group 4, alongside Croatia, Ukraine and Kosovo.

There is no direct route to the finals for Wales, with the top three times in their group going into play-offs to reach the finals in Switzerland.

Wales: Olivia CLARK (Bristol City), Laura O’SULLIVAN (Cardiff City Ladies), Soffia KELLY (FAW Girls Academy South), Rhiannon ROBERTS (Real Betis), Charlie ESTCOURT (Reading), Josie GREEN (Leicester City), Hayley LADD (Manchester United), Gemma EVANS (Manchester United), Mayzee DAVIES (Manchester United), Lily WOODHAM (Seattle Reign), Ella POWELL (Bristol City), Sophie INGLE (Chelsea), Alice GRIFFITHS (Southampton), Angharad JAMES (Seattle Reign), Elena COLE (FAW Girls Academy South), Lois JOEL (London City Lionesses), Rachel ROWE (Rangers), Ffion MORGAN (Bristol City), Jess FISHLOCK (Seattle Reign), Ceri HOLLAND (Liverpool), Ellen JONES (Sunderland), Elise HUGHES (Crystal Palace), Mary MCATEER (Sunderland), Kayleigh BARTON (Charlton Athletic), Mared GRIFFITHS (FAW Girls Academy North), Ania DENHAM (Wolverhampton Wanderers).

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