What the Wales starting XI could look like for their Euro 2020 opener

Wales players celebrate a goal
Wales players celebrate a goal (PA Archive)
12:00pm, Thu 03 Jun 2021
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Wales boss Robert Page had plenty of Euro 2020 food for thought after the 3-0 friendly defeat away to France on Wednesday.

The Dragons start their European Championship campaign against Switzerland in Baku, with Italy and Turkey completing the Group A picture.

Here, the PA news agency predicts what the Wales team will look like for the June 12 opener.

Danny Ward

The Leicester man has been in the shadows of Wales’ most capped goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey for many years. But Ward has capitalised on the injury Hennessey suffered last October to seemingly establish himself as the number one going into Euro 2020. He started against France and produced a superb penalty save among several excellent stops.

Connor Roberts

The Swansea defender’s position could be under threat from Neco Williams if Page chooses to go with a back four. But Page opted for wing-backs in the World Cup qualifiers against Belgium and the Czech Republic in March and Roberts’ raiding qualities down the right are a huge plus in that formation.

Chris Mepham

Wales v Hungary – UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying – Group E – Cardiff City Stadium (PA Archive)

Costly errors have hurt Mepham in recent times but the Bournemouth defender appears to have done enough to hold off the claims of highly-rated Swansea youngster Ben Cabango. Mepham’s extra experience gives him the edge over Cabango, while late call-up Tom Lockyer has had little time to mount a challenge after his season was disrupted by ankle surgery.

Joe Rodon

Rodon won only his 13th cap against France in Nice but has emerged as a key defensive figure and even wore the armband after Gareth Bale was substituted against Finland in November. He is yet to nail down a regular place at Tottenham since his October move from Swansea, but growing maturity and a calm persona make him a certain starter.

Ben Davies

Wales hope the experienced Tottenham defender is fit for the Baku opener after missing the last two months of the season with a calf problem. Davies came on just before the hour mark in Nice and his versatility means he could play either on the left side of a three-man defence or operate at left-back in a four.

Neco Williams

The Liverpool full-back was harshly sent off for handball 26 minutes into the Nice defeat when the game was goalless.Williams is adaptable and brings huge energy and enthusiasm to the team, either at right-back in a four-man defence or more likely at left wing-back to create an exciting partnership with Daniel James down that flank.

Joe Allen

Wales v Hungary – UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying – Group E – Cardiff City Stadium (PA Archive)

Wales will be so relieved the Stoke midfielder, who was named in the official Euro 2016 team of the tournament, emerged unscathed after nearly an hour against France. Allen had not played for club or country since being injured against Belgium in March and his ability to turn over possession in transition is key to the way Wales want to play.

Ethan Ampadu

There remains a question mark of Ampadu’s starting spot after a late-season pelvic injury and his absence from the matchday squad in Nice. Wales see him lining up alongside Allen in central midfield for the Baku opener, but the Chelsea youngster might need minutes in the final warm-up game against Albania on Saturday for that to happen.

Aaron Ramsey

The Juventus playmaker was named in the Euro 2016 team of the tournament but has rarely played for Wales over the last few years and is another fitness concern. But he got just over 30 minutes under his belt in Nice and impressed with his passing and vision. If he does start in Baku it could be in a false nine role, although doubts over Ampadu could see him drop deeper.

Gareth Bale

Wales v Bulgaria – UEFA Nations League – Group 4 – League B – Cardiff City Stadium (PA Archive)

Wales’ talismanic skipper has batted away questions over his club future to focus solely on Euro 2020. The Real Madrid superstar, who tends to operate as a right-sided attacker for his country, scored three times as Wales reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016. Bale spent last season on loan at Tottenham and finished in good scoring form.

Daniel James

Searing pace makes James a huge counter-attacking weapon and ideally suited to Wales’ game plan to break quickly on opponents. The winger often lines up on the right at Manchester United, but he is used in his preferred left-wing role by Wales and provides a genuine goal threat.

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