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WALES’ STARTING LINE-UP COULD LOOK VERY DIFFERENT BY THE TIME THE NEXT WORLD CUP COMES AROUND

ethan ampadu wales ireland

With Russia still clearly visible in the rear-view mirror, we’ve got a long wait until the next World Cup comes around.

Qatar 2022 will be Wales’ next chance to reach a World Cup for the first time since 1958 and for some, it will be a last chance to reach the prestigious competition before their playing career comes to an end.

Players like Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey may just about hang on for a chance of representing Wales on the grand stage.

However, the focus will have shifted to the next generation of players, if it hasn’t already.

We’ve already seen some of our talented youngsters come to the fore in recent internationals, players like Ethan Ampadu and David Brooks.

Those players would likely lead the next World Cup bid.

And after the youngsters got us licking our lips again during that thumping win over Ireland, we thought it would be fun to cast our minds into the future.

Here’s our predicted line-up for Wales’ opening game at Qatar 2022 after they inevitably qualify.

GK – Adam Davies

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Could Adam Davies be a regular feature for Wales in 2022? pic: Steindy (talk)/Wikipedia

Davies will be hitting his peak by the time Qatar rolls around and he’s the obvious replacement for Wayne Hennessey.

The Barnsley stopper has impressed in the Championship and hopefully, by 2022, he’s playing Premier League football with many more caps to his name.

RB – Connor Roberts

connor roberts wales ireland
Wales v Ireland, Cardiff City Stadium, 6/9/18: Wales’ Connor Roberts defends the ball pic: www.influentialphotography.co.uk

Chris Gunter may still turn up for international duty until he has a walking stick and an eye patch, but Connor Roberts will be the first choice.

Roberts has burst onto the scene with Swansea and he’s likely to go on to bigger and better things, especially if he scores more goals like that stunner against Ireland.

Hot on Connor’s heels though will be Cameron Coxe. Still just 19 in the present day, the Cardiff City fullback has a long way to go to live up to his potential, but he has to be the most promising up and coming right-back in the Wales setup right now.

CB – Joe Rodon

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Rodon is already being eyed up by Manchester City and by this time, we’re going to assume he has established himself as John Stones’ replacement – it’s a given.

The central defender has all the attributes to succeed at the top level. He’s cool on the ball and firm in the challenge.

Whether he ends up as high as Manchester City, we’ll have to see, but there’s no doubt this lad is set for bigger things if he continues his current rate of improvement.

CB – Chris Mepham

chris mepham wales ireland
Chris Mepham lines up for Wales against Ireland pic: www.influentialphotography.co.uk

The big talking point going into the competition is who the gaffer goes with for the opener and Chris Mepham has just beaten Tom Lockyer to the punch.

Both young defenders have a real shot of becoming successful Premier League defenders but Mepham is younger and a little ahead.

Expect Lockyer to be an established international by this stage.

LB – Ben Davies

Still only 29 by this stage. Davies is half-jokingly referred to as the left-sided Gunts for his longevity and commitment to the cause.

His classy displays down the left flank keep winning plaudits for club and coutry to the extent that people have stopped talking about Danny Rose not getting a game at Spurs and he slinks off to try his luck somewhere else, probably on the continent, never to be heard from again.

CM – Ethan Ampadu

Ethan Ampadu Wales Ireland
Wales v Ireland, Cardiff City Stadium, 6/9/18: Wales’ Ethan Ampadu sprays a sublime pass before Gareth Bale scores for Wales

In the holding role, we have Ethan Ampadu who is already set to become the best holding central midfielder in the world and occasional centre back when he feels like it.

Cool and composed, Ampadu will play a huge part in the next qualification campaign and he’ll lead Wales into the World Cup.

Joe Allen will be sat on the bench cheering on his young apprentice for the World Cup opener.

CM – Aaron Ramsey

Now part of the old guard, there’s some talk over whether the manager will keep faith with Aaron Ramsey, but he starts the opener.

Ramsey, now 31, has had to adapt his game, playing a little deeper, but he’s a passing genius who dictates the play in front of Ampadu.

Ramsey captains Wales for the World Cup opener.

CM – Lee Evans

The manager plays it safe for the opener, going with Lee Evans who is now in his prime and with a bottom-half Premier League player.

Jonathan Williams has passed a late fitness test to make the bench, but he’s deemed too much of a risk with his erratic style.

Evans offers prowess going forward and his defensive awareness makes him a perfect fit for the midfield.

RW – David Brooks

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Brooks eventually outgrows Bournemouth despite their European aspirations and he’s with a top six club.

The winger has put on some muscle and he’s a stronger prospect out wide. He’s a sure pick for the opener after going on to fulfil his potential.

Brooks is one of the stars of Wales’ World Cup team and he’s in plenty of World Cup fantasy teams with good reason.

LW – Ben Woodburn

The Liverpool youngster is now a Kopp favourite heading into the World Cup still at the tender age of 23.

Woodburn is lightning quick and he’s improved further on that great technical ability he’s already proven.

Gareth Bale misses out having picked up another hamstring injury despite coming out of international retirement for the World Cup. Now a veteran, there’s talk of a return to British football and his options are a bench spot at Spurs or a starting spot with hometown club Cardiff City.

Now playing a Craig Bellamy role, Bale is one of the captains of the team and he goes to the World Cup still regarded as an excellent player, but injury issues mean he will only start the big games.

ST – Tom Lawrence

Tom Lawrence has worked his way back to the top division after guiding Derby County to another two play-off defeats.

Now with a top eight club, Lawrence is scoring goals in the top flight and he’s an obvious choice to lead the line.

Tyler Roberts is also being talked about, but the gaffer goes with experience.

Notable mentions/substitutes

Michael Crowe, Tom Lockyer, Declan John, Regan Poole, Joe Allen, Jonathan Williams, Ryan Hedges, Harry Wilson, Gareth Bale, Tyler Roberts, Tom Bradshaw, Rabbi Matondo.

Jamie Kemble is a founder of Inside Wales Sport and can be found tweeting @JamieKemble, occasionally in Spanish, occasionally about his dog, and occasionally about his dog in Spanish.

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