Ashley Williams: Joe Rodon or Ethan Ampadu to succeed Gareth Bale as Wales captain

By Gareth VincentBBC Sport Wales
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Ashley Williams believes Joe Rodon and Ethan Ampadu are the contenders to succeed Gareth Bale as Wales captain.

Former Swansea and Everton defender Williams, 36, skippered Wales from 2012 through to his final cap in 2019.

He says Tottenham Hotspur centre-back Rodon and Sheffield United's on-loan Chelsea youngster Ampadu have the qualities to take the armband.

"When Gaz [Gareth Bale] retires, whenever that might be, you have got two clear candidates," Williams said.

"They are young boys, but I think the qualities you can see early on - Joe very much on the pitch, Ethan on and off the pitch. They are very good candidates."

Bale, who will be 32 in July, took over from Williams as Wales captain and will lead his country at Euro 2020.

The talismanic forward is likely to remain in the role well beyond this summer, but Williams says Rodon, 23, and 20-year-old Ampadu are emerging as leaders.

Joe Rodon and Ethan Ampadu have established themslves as Wales regulars ahead of Euro 2020
Joe Rodon (left) and Ethan Ampadu (right) have established themslves as Wales regulars ahead of Euro 2020

Williams has known Rodon since the Swansea youth product began training with the club's first team as a teenager.

They remain in regular contact - and Williams celebrated along with every other Wales fan when Rodon made a pivotal block in last month's World Cup qualifying win over Czech Republic.

"I was off the sofa and I was like, 'yes Joe'," Williams said.

"That's what we have been speaking about for years and years and years, since I was at Swansea.

"People at Swansea should be proud that they produced such a good player because he has both sides of the game. He has warrior mentality and on the ball he is very good - he can break lines, he can bring the ball out.

"You can see him being more vocal on the pitch and he looks like one that has those captain qualities."

Williams captained Wales on their glorious run to the semi-finals of Euro 2016 under Chris Coleman.

He says uncertainty over who will manage Wales at this year's European Championship is "not great".

Ryan Giggs had his bail extended in February after denying an allegation of assault.

Robert Page has filled in as caretaker manager in the last two international windows and the Football Association of Wales say they have a plan in place if Giggs cannot take charge at Euro 2020.

Robert Page has been Ryan Giggs' assistant manager since August 2019
Robert Page has been Ryan Giggs' assistant manager since August 2019

"The sooner it gets cleared up, the better for everyone," Williams said.

"Robert Page has done really well since he came in. I had one camp with him I think and he was great with me.

"The sessions he put on were really good and his record since he has gone in has been brilliant.

"The lads seem to be really receptive to what he is trying to do. I am not sure how it's working with who's picking the team, I don't know.

"I'd like to see a decision made somewhere just so everyone can settle down and know what's happening."

Wales begin Euro 2020 against Switzerland on 12 June before games against Turkey and Italy.

"All the groups are tough and this one on paper is definitely tough," Williams said.

"What I like about the boys now is that they are fearless. They are playing the football that we in Welsh football would expect - being on the front foot, being aggressive, not taking a backward step and worrying about what's going to happen.

"These boys are coming in and doing their thing and I love watching them. They are exciting. There's pace and power going forward. There are good players at the back.

"So who knows? It's tournament football. We never thought we would have got to the semis (in 2016)."

Having retired from playing in January, Williams is considering a move into coaching - although he is in no rush to return to full-time football.

As part of the coaching course he is on, Williams spent time with Wales under-17s last week.

Ashley Williams is doing punditry work while studying for his coaching badges, and is also an ambassador for the McDonald's Football Fun programme
Ashley Williams is doing punditry work while studying for his coaching badges, and is also an ambassador for the McDonald's Football Fun programme

"I will do the full season with them and their qualifying campaign," he said.

"I am on my A licence so I need some practical hours on the grass.

"They help me plan my sessions and get my A licence, and at the same time they are pleased for me to be in camp and speaking to 15 and 16-year-olds and trying to pass on a bit of experience.

"That was my first five-day camp. We played England and won 3-2. I think the kids benefited from it and I loved it."

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