Wales manager Jayne Ludlow and assistant coach Lauren Smith have announced their 20 player U17 squad that will travel to Austria for the UEFA Women’s U17 Championship Elite Round at the end of the month.
#WU17EURO ELITE ROUND FIXTURES
Belgium v Wales
- 24/03/19 16:30, Stegersbach
Austria v Wales
- 27/03/19 17:00, Stegersbach
Wales v Finland
- 30/03/19 14:00, Oberwart
KO times GMT
Wales’ young side will take on Belgium, Finland and the host nation Austria (24th-30th March) after progressing through the qualifying round last October.
“It's huge for our youngsters,” manager Jayne Ludlow explained to FAW.cymru. “The more that they can compete at that top level of the game, which is what the Elite round is, the better. We don't get many opportunities to do that, but thankfully we've got through to the Elite round again which gives us that opportunity.”
A place in the Elite round was confirmed last October as they side progressed through their qualifying group. The team went to Serbia for the opening Group 7 match and suffered a heavy 4-0 reverse. However, they regrouped and responded in the right way with a 0-0 draw against the Republic of Ireland in their second game. In the deciding match against Albania, goals from Josie Longhurst and substitute Zoe Collyer claimed the crucial 2-0 win to take them through.
“We've been in the post for four years now so there's a philosophy of play that we are bringing through with each group,” Ludlow added. “There's a value system that the players understand, but the U17's is the youngest group that we affect, so it's still very much early days in terms of their learning process. But in fairness they are picking up things really quickly, which is really nice to see. We don't play a lot of national team friendlies at that age group, but it would be nice to go there and compete. There's no pressure on us to go and win the tournament.”
Ludlow will be with the side for the first match of the tournament but will return to Wales to continue preparations for the senior side’s match against the Czech Republic on Thursday 4 April. Assistant coach Lauren Smith will take charge of the team for the final two matches and echoes Ludlow’s comments ahead of the tournament.
The players worked have worked really hard in the training camps we’ve had leading up to the tournament. They’re taking on lots of information and it’s great to see their togetherness and cohesion. It’s great to have matches against strong opportunity and a chance for the players to prove themselves. Ultimately we hope the experience helps continue their development.
Finland qualified for the Elite round as runners-up in Group 3 following victories over Romania and Montenegro, while Belgium comfortably topped Group 6 with wins against Andorra, Turkey and Portugal, scoring 13 goals in the process. Austria also enjoyed a perfect qualification campaign, winning Group 8 with victories over Estonia, Slovenia and Belarus.
The Elite round starts for Wales in Stegersbach against Belgium on 24th March, and the side will play their second game against hosts Austria at the same stadium on 27th March. The final match against Finland take place in Oberwart on 30th March with the chance of claiming a place in the finals of the UEFA Women's U17 Championship that will take place in Bulgaria in May.
Poppy Soper (Cardiff City Ladies FC), Deanna Lewis (Cyncoed Ladies FC), Maria Francis-Jones (Wales Performance Squad), Grace Morris (Wales Performance Squad), Morgan Rogers (Cardiff City Ladies FC), Hollie Smith (Cyncoed Ladies FC), Esther Morgan (Chelsea FC Women), Carrie Jones (Wales Performance Squad), Isabella Reidford (Manchester United Women FC), Kate La Cumbre (Oxford United Women FC), Cerys Jones (Cardiff City Ladies FC), Ava Suckley (Stoke City Ladies FC), Hayley Hoare (Cyncoed Ladies FC), Lucy Attwood (Cyncoed Ladies FC), Josie Longhurst (Cardiff City Ladies FC), Bethan McGowan (Penclawdd FC), Ffion Spence (Barry Town United Ladies FC), Olivia Barnett (Barry Town United Ladies FC), Ellie Gunney (Sully Sports FC), Taylor Reynolds (Birmingham City Women FC)