With Champions League experience and a stint in the States to her name, Wales forward Emma Jones is now looking to be a regular fixture in Jayne Ludlow’s side.
Jones, who was born in Bournemouth, qualifies to play for Wales through her Cwmbran-born grandparents.
She has previously represented Wales at both under-17 and under-19 level, featuring in the U19 European Championships in 2013.
Despite travelling with the squad for the double-header against Portugal in November, Jones was unable to play due to injury.
But her chance came in Wales’ first game of the year against Italy on Tuesday as the Cardiff City Ladies forward made her debut in the snow at Cesena.
“It was a great feeling and definitely one I won’t forget with the weather and the opposition. It was fun!”
Kick off in Italy was brought forward by two hours but both teams still fought it out on a snow-laden pitch with a brightly coloured ball in scenes reminiscent of old school football before under-pitch heating became a regular thing.
UCHAFBWYNTIAU | HIGHLIGHTS 🇮🇹 2-0 🏴
Snow… Yellow footballs… Red pitch markings… Winter has come…
Mae'r gaeaf wedi cyrraedd…
— Wales 🏴 (@Cymru) January 23, 2019
24-year-old Jones joined Linkopings FC last summer after a stint across the pond in the States, and featured in the Champions League for the Sweden-based side.
Jones says her experience in Scandinavia was a steep learning curve after she opted to depart the club at the end of last year.
“It came up in the summer and it was something I couldn’t turn down really. It was a great opportunity and a great level playing in the Champions League.
“But it wasn’t the right fit for me and I learned what I wanted from my career.”
She joined Cardiff City Ladies, who compete in the Southern Premier Division of the FA Women’s League, earlier this month.
The move sees her link-up with several of her international team-mates, including goalkeeper Laura O’Sullivan, at the Ystrad Mynach-based club.
“I’ve only been there a couple of weeks and it feels like home. It’s really fun to be part of a group of girls that are so welcoming and comforting.
“They want me to do well and I want the same for them.”
We have no less than EIGHT players selected for the Wales squad travelling to Italy this week!
Congratulations to Laura O’Sullivan, Cori Williams, Kylie Nolan, Grace Horrell, Emma Jones, Gwen Davies, Nadia Lawrence and Ffion Morgan who have been selected in Jayne Ludlow’s squad https://t.co/IrT2QEvvaZ
— Cardiff City LFC (@CardiffCityLFC) January 15, 2019
And those familiar faces have helped her settle in quickly with the international squad.
“It’s been great, everyone has been really friendly and helped me a lot.
“(The senior players were)….honestly a lot more approachable that I thought they would be. They helped me out the most I think, more than anyone, with tactics and stuff like that.”
During her youth days, Jones was also part of Reading’s scholarship programme in the John Madejeski Academy at the same time Ludlow was manager of the club.
The forward is relishing the challenge of the Euro 2021 qualifying campaign and says she is already learning; praising Ludlow for investing in the less experienced players in the squad.
“It’s best to learn the ways a little when you’re a bit younger so that you can always have those values when you do grow up and become one of the more regular players.
“Everyone is really positive and excited to see what’s next.”
Wales lost 2-0 against a side 10 places above them in the FIFA rankings and heading to this year’s Women’s World Cup.
But Jayne Ludlow was impressed with what she saw after giving a first start to Cori Williams and opportunities for other squad players including Grace Horrell and goalkeeper Claire Skinner.
Special and proud day for me & my family reaching 50 caps for @FAWales (creepy/cheesy smile below says it all 😂)
— Hayley Ladd (@HayleyLadd) January 22, 2019
It was a special day for Birmingham defender Hayley Ladd as she won her 50th cap.
Next up for Wales is a trip to southern Spain to play Ireland in Malaga next month before back-to-back games against the Czech Republic at home in April. Venues still TBC for those last two games.
Wales will find out who they play for a place in the Euro 2021 championships when the qualifying draw is made in Nyon on 21 February.
Callum Ellis is a sports writer for International.Wales, among others. You can follow his escapades on Twitter @CallumJEllis.
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