Josh Sheehan Wales

Josh Sheehan Wales. Pic: Getty Images

New Wales Skipper Josh Sheehan Admits Captaincy Is A Dream

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By Paul Jones

Josh Sheehan has admitted he will have to put aside his surprise on Thursday evening when he pulls on the captain’s armband for Wales.

The Bolton Wanderers midfielder will lead a young and experimental Welsh side in a friendly against Gibraltar in Portugal.

Sheehan, 29, has won five caps but they have taken him four years to accumulate, they have all been from off the bench, and he has never looked close to becoming first choice.

But this will be a proud moment for the former Newport County player who said manager Rob Page had caught him off guard with the news he would be skipper.

“He told me this morning – he pulled me aside after breakfast and said ‘you are playing tomorrow’ and he just dropped in there ‘you are going to be leading the boys out’,” Sheehan said.

“I couldn’t really believe it to be honest – it’s not something I thought was going to happen. I was happy to be playing the game and try to show what I am about. To lead the boys out is something you dream about.”

With regular skipper Aaron Ramsey absent, there have been question marks over who leads the team next season.

But former international Andy King feels former Wales team-mate Ramsey will believe he still has a “lot to give” to the national team.

Ramsey’s international future has come under the spotlight after a lack of game-time following an injury-plagued season at Cardiff.

The 33-year-old won the last of his 84 caps nine months ago and was not risked off the bench in March as a penalty shoot-out defeat against Poland ended Welsh hopes of playing at Euro 2024 this summer.

Ramsey will now miss friendlies away to Gibraltar and Slovakia this week to focus on a full pre-season at Cardiff, with Wales boss Rob Page saying his return to the squad in September will depend on his fitness levels then.

“Players know themselves, they know how the body’s feeling,” said King, the Leicester Premier League title winner who announced the end of his 18-year senior career last month.

“It’s always tough when it’s something you’ve done your own life.

“Aaron is a top player, top person, and I’m sure he’ll feel that he’s got a lot to give.”

King played alongside Ramsey in the Wales midfield between 2009 and 2018 and won 50 caps.

The pair were members of the Wales squad that reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016 in France.

King added: “Aaron has been an inspiration for a lot of young Welsh players, he was central to that golden generation.

“He would have been the main man in any other generation, but he just happened to come along at the same time as Gareth Bale.

“The way they played in tandem was unbelievable and that took Welsh football to new heights.

“You could give Aaron the ball in any situation and he always wanted to create and make something happen.

“He has been a fantastic player for Wales, and for British football in general for what he did at Arsenal, Juventus and Nice.”

Having missed out on a third successive Euros, Wales will prepare for Nations League matches against Iceland, Montenegro and Turkey this autumn with two friendlies in the space of four days this week.

The Dragons meet Gibraltar at the Estadio Algarve in Portugal on Thursday before taking on Euro 2024-bound Slovakia in Trnava.

“It’s a new generation and some of the players are playing at Premier League level, which is key,” said former Bristol City midfielder King.

“We managed that around 2014 and 2016 when we had players playing week in and week out in the Premier League.

“That’s not always been the case, but you want lads playing at the highest level.

“Brennan Johnson and Harry Wilson are doing that, and hopefully it bodes well for the future.”

Read more about Rob Page

We Are Still A Team In Transition, Insists Wales Manager Rob Page

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