Wales are confident Liverpool striker Lewis Koumas will continue to play for them on the international stage and not change his allegiance to England.

Dual-qualified Koumas has been promoted to the Wales Under-21 set-up after being capped at U19 level and breaking in to the first-team picture at Liverpool.

The 18-year-old was an unused substitute in Liverpool’s Carabao Cup final victory over Chelsea and scored on his senior debut in the 3-0 FA Cup defeat of Southampton at Anfield last month.

Koumas’ father Jason was a full Wales international, winning 34 caps between 2001 and 2009 while playing for West Brom, Cardiff and Wigan.

But Koumas was born in Chester and Wales U21 coach Matty Jones said in October that England were “aggressively pursuing” the teenager.

“Absolutely. I’ve always got confidence with our young Welsh lads because when they initially have those experiences (being selected for age-group teams), they connect,” Jones said when asked if he was confident that Koumas would fully commit to Wales.

“The relationships we build, the due diligence we’ve done over the last six to eight weeks. I’ve had four visits to Liverpool and monitored Lewis’ performance.

“I’ve sat and had lunch with him, getting to understand him as a human being.

“To know how to best manage him, what makes him tick and also his threats and abilities he can pose for us as a team.

“The feedback from (manager) Rob Edwards with the exposure he’s had from the 19s has helped us as well.

“All that accumulates into one big package where he can hopefully come in with us and flourish.

“The opportunity is there but let’s not ignore the fact this squad is currently doing really well and there will be competition to get a place in the team.”

Wales play Lithuania in Newport on March 22 and are chasing qualification for the 2025 UEFA European U21 Championship in Slovakia.

The young Dragons trail group leaders Denmark on goal difference and currently occupy a play-off spot.

Wales manager Rob Page has resisted the temptation to invite Koumas into his full squad for now, although the proximity of training for the seniors and U21s at Hensol means the Liverpool youngster could be spending time with Aaron Ramsey and company in some sessions next week.

Jones said: “Lewis is a very ambitious young player and there’s no surprise why he’s excelling.

“The taste he’s had of senior exposure – he’s trained quite regularly with the first-team – has elevated him.

“They’ve taken a liking to him, everyone I’ve spoken to at Liverpool loves his self-confidence and his ability to drive at people and run.

“He’s developing on a daily basis, but the big thing is he can’t wait to come in.

“He’ll be joining us late after the Manchester United-Liverpool game on Sunday, but we couldn’t be in a better place.

“Hopefully there’ll be game time for him and an opportunity to show us what he’s about.”

Defenders Terence Miles (Liverpool) and Alex Williams (West Brom) also make their first appearances in an U21 squad for a double header that includes a friendly with an Olympics-bound Morocco U23 side in Antalya, Turkey, on March 26.

Wales Under-21s boss Matty Jones paid tribute to his side’s never-say-die spirit after they salvaged a 1-1 draw against the Czech Republic in Ostrov.

Substitute Cian Ashford scored the equaliser in the sixth minute of injury time to extend his side’s unbeaten start to their European Championship qualifying campaign to three games.

“It genuinely feels like a win and you have to give the boys credit for sticking to the plan and fighting for their lives,” Jones told Wales’ social media accounts.

“I always felt we were in there and it is a huge credit to the players and staff for sticking together and finding a way.

“We’ve spoken a lot about that in this campaign. It’s the winning mentality we always want to keep promoting, and we’re going away celebrating because it actually feels like a win.”

Wales Under-21 coach Matty Jones has hailed Luton hero Joe Taylor’s “fight and determination” to rise from the ninth tier of English football to the Premier League.

Taylor was sent out on loan by King’s Lynn to Eastern Counties League Premier Division club Wroxham at the start of the 2021-22 season.

It proved plain sailing as Taylor scored 21 goals in 13 games for the ninth-tier Yachtsmen, sparking Peterborough’s interest and a move to the English Football League in November 2021.

Taylor made just a dozen league appearances for Posh before signing for Luton in January and his season ended in the most dramatic fashion.

The 20-year-old forward, on as a substitute, converted a penalty in the Hatters’ Wembley shoot-out victory over Coventry that secured Premier League football next season.

“To see Joe come on at Wembley was special,” said Jones, who has included Taylor in the squad for Wales’ opening 2025 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifier in Denmark on Tuesday.

“I spoke to him before the game and he didn’t expect to be on the bench. Just to be part of it and experience the day was his main goal.

“One thing he’s got is fight and determination, not to prove people wrong but to prove to himself that he’s good enough.

“It could have gone either way for him at Peterborough, in terms of not getting a huge amount of game time and dropping into the 21s.

“He showed frustration at times for that, but then his move to Luton came out of the blue.”

Taylor made only one start and four substitute appearances before making the Hatters’ bench at Wembley.

Just moments before his sweetly-struck penalty in the shoot-out, Taylor thought he had scored an extra-time winner only for his effort to be ruled out by VAR for a handball in the build-up.

“To come off the bench and score the winner would have been a dream come true,” Jones said.

“But we couldn’t be happier to see Joe score a penalty which was pivotal to Luton’s success.

“Those experiences for lads are gold dust. The pressure he was under with that penalty will only bode well for us.

“He will get similar scenarios for his country, how to manage his emotions under extreme pressure.”

King’s Lynn-born Taylor, who qualifies for the Dragons through his Welsh grandmother, made his U21 debut in September.

Jones said: “Joe’s had a great journey – it’s such a positive story – and he’s come into camp now with both performance and physical momentum.”

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