Rob Page praises ‘future Wales captain’ Ethan Ampadu ahead of landmark cap

By Sports Desk March 16, 2024

Ethan Ampadu has been described as a future Wales captain by national-team boss Rob Page.

Ampadu is set to win his 50th cap in Thursday’s Euro 2024 play-off semi-final against Finland at the tender age of 23.

Barring any future injury issues, the versatile Leeds player seems certain to break Gareth Bale’s record of 111 caps.

“He’s only 23 and it seems like he’s been around forever because of the age (17) when he got his debut,” Page said of Ampadu, who has started 42 of Leeds’ 43 games this term since making a £7million switch from Chelsea.

“He’s a future Wales captain 100 per cent because he’s already captained Leeds and that’s a big club.

“He’s a model pro on and off the pitch. He doesn’t get carried away with things, his attitude is first-class, and that’s why he has the Leeds armband.

“It is a big responsibility but they wouldn’t have given it to him if they didn’t think he could cope with it.”

Wales welcome Finland to Cardiff with the winners hosting Estonia or Poland five days later to decide a place at Euro 2024 this summer.

The Dragons have no fewer than four Leeds players in their ranks with Ampadu joined by Connor Roberts, Daniel James and Joe Rodon.

Ampadu has forged an outstanding centre-back partnership with Tottenham loanee Rodon as Championship high-fliers Leeds have stepped up their push for a return to the Premier League.

But Page has recently used Ampadu in a central midfield axis with Birmingham teenager Jordan James.

“Of course you’re going to think about it (playing Ampadu in defence), but when I’ve got a three that are playing well I don’t like making changes for the sake of it,” said Page, who has been an Elland Road regular this season.

“I do like Ethan as a centre-back because he keeps you high up the pitch. You can play a high line because he is not worried about pace in behind because of his athleticism and aggression.

“On the ball we’ve needed that physicality and him and JJ (James) have struck up such a strong partnership.

“It’s great to have that luxury that he can play more than one position and Joe can do the same.

“When Locks (Tom Lockyer) came in and played in the middle, Joe went to the right of the three and did really well.

“That’s given me food for thought as both of them can play a multitude of positions.

“He and Joe have struck up a good partnership keeping clean sheets, but Ethan’s just as good playing as a six in midfield as he is at the back.”

The Leeds quartet will be the last players to arrive at the Wales camp as Daniel Farke’s side meet Millwall on Sunday.

Page admits the 3pm kick-off at The Den has altered his pre-Finland planning, saying: “I tried to get a welcome meeting for Sunday night and show all the positives from the campaign.

“We will have to do that on Monday morning now because of the delay in some of the players coming in.

“We just hope everyone turns up on Sunday night because they are in such good form.”

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