New U21 boss Robert Page wants players to choose Wales over England

Meet new Wales U21s boss Robert Page

New Wales Under-21 boss Robert Page says that ensuring dual-qualified players commit their futures to Wales will be a major part of his job.

The 42 year old, who will also take charge on the Under-17 and Under-19 teams, has signed a four-year deal.

Page currently has players such as Liverpool's Ben Woodburn and Exeter's Ethan Ampadu at his disposal who are also eligible to represent England.

It will be an important part of the job," he told BBC Radio Wales Sport.

"It is important that we continue to build relationships with the academies," he continued.

"If I was an academy manager (at a club) I need to know that my best players are bring looked after. And they'll get that with Wales.

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"Look at the first team in the summer. There was a camaraderie and a team spirit.

"It was a group of friends playing together. And it's important that when you're dual-nationality, you're with a group of lads that you enjoy being with.

"Even if they've got injuries I still want them to be a part of those groups and camps, to be part of the culture that we're going to buy in to from what's already there from the first team.

Qualification aim

The Wales under-21 team have never qualified for a major tournament, although they came close in 2008 when they lost a playoff against England for a place in the 2009 European Championships.

And although gaining qualification is important for Page, he understands that he'll also have to keep providing the senior team with new players as a priority.

"We've got to continue doing the work that Geraint (Williams) has done. And his record has been very good in developing these players through to Chris' first team," he said.

"Qualifying for a major tournament is something that we need to do. You want your best players around you to be able to do that. But inevitably you're going to lose your best players (to the senior team.)

Lee Evans, Tom Ince, Tom Lawrence
Lee Evans and Tom Lawrence have both made senior Wales squads after coming through the age grade system

The main aim is to keep developing players and qualify for a major tournament."

No Forest stay

Page had been first-team coach at Championship club Nottingham Forest since January after he was sacked as manager by League One side Northampton in January.

New manager Mark Warburton was keen for him to stay on in the role until the end of the season, but Page wants no distractions.

"My focus is solely on Wales. There's a lot of work to be done. There's a tournament for the younger age-groups in Cyprus in April, so I'll be involved in that straight away.

"When Warburton came in he made it clear that he wanted me to stay there. But there was an opportunity for me to start my work with the FAW. And there's a lot of work to be done before the summer."

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