Ryan Giggs is determined to give Welsh youngsters a platform on which to flourish in the national team and the early signs look positive. He handed starts to Ethan Ampadu, Chris Mepham, David Brooks and Connor Roberts for his first competitive game in charge, and they ripped the Republic of Ireland apart. Seventeen-year-old Ampadu was named man of the match for his brilliance in the 4-1 victory, and Giggs' bold selections paid off. A slightly chastening defeat at the hands of Denmark followed, but Wales' prospects for Euro 2020 and the next World Cup look strong.
Experienced players are already looking nervously over their shoulders. "Bar a couple of the lads, I don't think anyone is safe in terms of selection, which is a good thing," said 28-year-old midfielder Joe Allen. Mepham is 20, Brooks is 21 and Roberts is 22, and they all have the potential to develop into superstars for this team, while the world is at Ampadu's feet. If you check out a William Hill review one of the most trusted bookies in the market and find the best football odds available, you will see that Wales are not among the favourites for Euro 2020, but they could relish the underdog status and thrive.
Under-21 boss Rob Page says Giggs' faith in youth should be music to the ears of fans and budding starlets alike. Manchester City midfielder Matt Smith, 18, and 21-year-old Leicester forward George Thomas have also featured, along with 21-year-old Liverpool midfielder Harry Wilson, and it is an extremely exciting time to be a young Welsh footballer. "Within 24 hours of him being appointed he was on the phone to me talking about the young lads, so he definitely wants to improve, encourage the system we have and show that pathway," said Page. "It's music to my ears and should be to every other Wales fan."
The likes of Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Allen are not going anywhere and they should provide a strong, experienced core for the next two big tournaments at least. Ben Davies is just 24 and he should be capable of nailing down a place for years to come. But around them there is intense competition for places and all manner of youngsters are in with a shot.
We are yet to see Regan Poole play for Wales, but the young Man Utd centre-back has starred for the under-21 team. Ashley Williams and James Chester will be 38 and 33 respectively by the next World Cup, and Giggs will be keen to usher in a new era at centre-back. Ampadu could drop back into defence, but he looks extremely effective in midfield, so the manager may be tempted to pair Poole with Mepham going forwards.
Hal Robson-Kanu has now retired from international duties and it is time to introduce dynamic new forwards to support Bale. Ben Woodburn has already made eight appearances for Wales and he too looks like he could hold down a place in the first team for many years to come. The 18-year-old Liverpool player is Wales' second youngest goal scorer of all time behind Bale, and his potential is astonishing.
Swansea winger Daniel James and Tyler Roberts of Leeds Utd, aged 20 and 19 respectively, also look like magnificent talents. Rhys Abbruzzese, Aron Davies, Dominic Smith, Jack Evans, Robbie Burton, Jake Charles, Owain Jones, Mark Harris, Nathan Broadhead, Liam Cullen, Rabbi Matondo, Joe Rodon, Cameron Coxe, Cian Harries, Luke Pilling and Owen Evans all have plenty of potential and many of them will fancy their chances of breaking into the national team in the weeks and months ahead, leaving fans daring to dream of a golden generation that can go on to achieve great things.