Wales women: Jess Fishlock under-appreciated - boss Jayne Ludlow

Jess Fishlock
Jess Fishlock won her 100th cap for Wales against Northern Ireland in April 2017
2019 Fifa Women's World Cup Group One qualifier
Venue: St Mary's, Southampton FC Date: Friday, 6 April Kick-off: 19:00
Coverage: Live on BBC Two Wales, BBC Radio Wales and Radio Cymru

Jess Fishlock "does not get the recognition she deserves", according to Wales women's manager Jayne Ludlow.

In 2017 Fishlock, 31, became the first Welsh footballer to reach 100 caps and is set to make her 109th appearance in the 2019 World Cup qualifier against England on 6 April.

Ludlow, who played alongside her, said it was "frustrating" her star player is underappreciated.

"She is one of our strongest international team players," she said.

"I listen to commentary after commentary saying about our male players... it's frustrating for me.

"She's been a fantastic person to have involved since I started as manager.

"We've had different challenges along the way with regards to the squad that I am putting alongside her, but for me, Jess is very much somebody that the players learn from and she enjoys playing with them."

Ludlow added: "I wish she could play another 100 caps, but that's probably not realistic, but we're going to get as much out of her as we can because she's extremely important to us."

Jess Fishlock reflects on 2019 World Cup campaign as Wales currently sit top of Group One

Ludlow's Wales side are top of Group One after four games and are yet to concede a goal at the midway point before the qualifier with the Lionesses at Southampton's St Mary's Stadium.

According to the latest Fifa rankings, Phil Neville's England are second in the world while Wales rose a place to 34th.

Ludlow said it was "great being an underdog".

She added: "From a playing perspective it gives us a fantastic opportunity to go out there and do the things I know we can do well and see what we've got a the end of the 90 minutes.

"I back my players and I'm very proud of what they have done so far and I'm sure they'll keep doing that for the rest of the campaign."

Wales line up at the Cyprus Cup
Wales recently competed in their third Cyprus Cup in preparation for the World Cup qualifiers

Asked about Neville and the controversy surrounding his appointment as England coach, Ludlow said she "didn't think about it too much" and preferred to concentrate on her own players and staff.

She also refused to be drawn into commenting on the situation surrounding Neville's predecessor, Mark Sampson.

The Welshman was sacked following evidence of "inappropriate and unacceptable" behaviour in a previous role.

Ludlow said: "I think when you look at any sport there are always issues apart from the game.

"For me I just focus on the game.

"My players are my priority and everything else that goes around it is just white noise."

Wales women squad: Claire Skinner (Wales Performance Squad), Laura O'Sullivan (Cyncoed Ladies), Loren Dykes (Bristol City Women), Sophie Ingle (Liverpool Ladies), Alice Griffiths (Wales Performance Squad), Rhiannon Roberts (Doncaster Rovers Belles), Rachel Rowe (Reading Women), Elise Hughes (Everton Ladies), Jess Fishlock (Seattle Reign), Hayley Ladd (Birmingham City Ladies), Angharad James (Everton Ladies), Nadia Lawrence (Wales Performance Squad), Charlie Estcourt (Bristol City Women on loan from Reading Women), Natasha Harding (Reading Women), Gemma Evans (Yeovil Town Ladies), Helen Ward (Watford Ladies), Kylie Nolan (Bristol City Women), Melissa Fletcher (Reading Women), Kayleigh Green (Yeovil Town Ladies), Hannah Miles (Yeovil Town Ladies).

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