Wales hand teenager Ben Woodburn a senior call-up for Ireland game
Teenage Liverpool striker part of squad along with Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey
Teenage Liverpool forward Ben Woodburn has been named in the Wales squad for the World Cup qualifier against the Republic of Ireland. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey are included in Chris Coleman’s 23-man squad for Friday’s World Cup qualifier against the Republic of Ireland while Liverpool’s teenage striker Ben Woodburn is included in a senior squad for the first time.
Both Bale and Ramsey are expected to start at the Aviva Stadium after having done more than enough at club level of late to establish that they are fully fit again.
Ramsey, who has featured just once for his country since the quarter-final victory over Belgium at the European Championship in which he picked up his second yellow of the tournament, has played twice for Arsenal in the last couple of weeks after missing a month with a calf strain.
He scored in his most recent outing, against Lincoln City in the FA Cup at the weekend.
Bale, meanwhile, has featured just five times for Real Madrid since late November when he picked up an ankle injury that required surgery. He returned to action in mid-February and has scored twice in five games since but has missed the club’s last two league outings through suspension after being sent off against Las Palmas.
“He’s fit,” Coleman confirmed when asked about the 27-year-old. “He’s in good form. He looked good in training. I’m looking forward to getting him back.”
Run of form
Emyr Huws, Jonny Williams, Simon Church and Paul Dummett have all been left out by Coleman due to injury but Tom Lawrence is included after a strong run of form for Ipswich Town where he is on loan from Leicester City.
Lawrence has scored nine goals in his last 13 appearances for Mick McCarthy’s side and may well feature at some stage in Dublin.
Woodburn, meanwhile, is considered a major prospect and became the youngest player ever to score for the Liverpool first team earlier this season when he came on against Leeds in the League Cup.
He subsequently started three FA Cup games for the club and has made a total of seven appearances to date.
Despite having come up through the ranks with Wales, he still qualifies for England, who have shown interest in the teenager, prompting some pressure on Coleman to cap him competitively and so put his international future beyond doubt.
“If we want to put him on for tactical reasons, it would be for that, but not because we are worried about anyone else looking at him,” insisted Coleman when asked about the player’s inclusion at his press conference. “He has been part of the Welsh set-up since he was a young boy. There will be no knee-jerk reaction to cap him.
“If Ben wanted to go and play for England, there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. He’s a Welsh international, he’s played for us since a young boy and this is the natural progression for him.”
WALES SQUAD: Wayne Hennessy (Crystal Palace), Danny Ward (Huddersfield Town), Owain Fôn Williams (Inverness); Ashley Williams (Everton), Chris Gunter (Reading), Neil Taylor (Aston Villa), James Collins (West Ham), Joe Walsh (MK Dons), Shaun MacDonald (Wigan Athletic), Ben Davies (Tottenham Hotspur), James Chester (Aston Villa); Joe Allen (Stoke City), Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal), Andy King (Leicester City), Joe Ledley (Crystal Palace), Jazz Richards (Cardiff City), David Edwards (Wolves); Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Sam Vokes (Burnley), Tom Lawrence (Ipswich Town), Tom Bradshaw (Barnsley), Ben Woodburn (Liverpool), Hal Robson-Kanu (West Brom).