Daniel James: Another young wing ready to answer Wales' prayers

By Gareth VincentBBC Sport Wales
Young Wales wingers
Promising young Wales wingers Ben Woodburn, Rabbi Matondo, Daniel James, David Brooks and Harry Wilson

Gareth Bale has been Wales' main man for a decade and, while he may seem irreplaceable, an emerging generation of young Welsh forwards are showing there might be life after the Real Madrid forward.

Swansea's Daniel James was the latest rising star to put himself in the spotlight courtesy of the extraordinary goal he scored in Swansea City's FA Cup victory over Brentford.

At 29, Bale remains a key man for Wales manager Ryan Giggs as he prepares for the start of Euro 2020 qualifying next month.

But looking further into the future, one of the challenges ahead for Giggs will be deciding which of his bright young things to leave out of the team.

Giggsy knows a thing or two about these things.

He was a flying 17-year old winger when he made his Wales debut in 1991 and, when he slipped from the international limelight in 2007, it was Bale who took up the mantle for the country.

Here's a rundown of the raft of attacking prospects at the former Manchester United man's disposal.

David Brooks

Wales and Bournemouth midfielder David Brooks
David Brooks made his debut for Bournemouth in a 2-0 win over Cardiff City in August 2018

Age: 21

Caps/goals: 9/0

Brooks played international football at youth level for both England and Wales before committing to the Dragons.

A former Manchester City youngster, Warrington-born Brooks made the first-team breakthrough at Sheffield United having moved to Bramall Lane in 2014.

After three goals in 37 appearances for the Blades, Brooks joined Bournemouth in a reported £11.5m deal last summer and has thrived in the Premier League.

Having scored six times in 22 top-flight games, Brooks has been touted as a big-money summer target for the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham.

Daniel James

Age: 21

Caps/goals: 1/0

Swansea signed James from Hull back in 2014 and, having impressed in the club's development side, he scored on his senior debut in the FA Cup over Notts County 12 months ago.

He had joined Shrewsbury on loan at the start of last season only to return to the Liberty without playing a game.

Swansea's relegation from the Premier League opened the way for a number of youngsters to play regular first-team football under Graham Potter, and James is one of many who have shone this season.

He is blessed with devastating pace and his end product is improving, as he showed with that fine goal against Brentford.

James almost joined Leeds in January, but Swansea pulled the plug on the deal and hope to persuade him to extend his contract, which runs until 2020.

Harry Wilson

Age: 21

Caps/goals: 8/2

Liverpool youngster Wilson has turned heads during a loan spell at Derby this season having previously impressed at Hull.

Born in Wrexham, Wilson moved to Anfield when he was still at primary school and became Wales' youngest international when he was capped back in 2013 at the age of just 16.

He had to wait four years for his next Wales appearance - at last year's China Cup - but now looks like being a regular.

A dead ball specialist, Wilson scored seven times while on loan at Hull in the second half of last season and has netted 12 times in 31 appearances for Derby.

Rabbi Matondo

Rabbi Matondo
Rabbi Matondo made his senior Wales debut against Albania in November 2018

Age: 18

Caps/goals: 1/0

Matondo has gone straight into the first team at Schalke after joining the German club from Manchester City in a £9.6m deal in January.

The 18-year-old toured with Pep Guardiola's squad last summer but left City without making a senior competitive appearance.

Born in Liverpool but raised in Cardiff, Matondo was part of the Bluebirds' youth set-up before switching to the Etihad at the age of 15.

As well as being technically strong, Matondo is another player who has searing pace. In fact, he revealed last year that he came out on top when all Manchester City players took a 20-metre sprint test.

Ben Woodburn

Ben Woodburn scores for Wales
Liverpool striker Ben Woodburn was eligible to play for England until his match-winning appearance from the bench against Austria

Age: 19

Caps/goals: 9/1

Woodburn became Wales' second youngest goalscorer - behind Bale - when he netted in spectacular fashion on his senior debut, against Austria back in September 2017.

The previous season, the then 17-year-old Woodburn - who was born in Nottingham but raised in Cheshire - had become the youngest senior goal scorer in Liverpool history when he netted in only his second game for the club.

Woodburn made nine Liverpool appearances that season and another two last term before joining Sheffield United on loan at the start of this campaign.

However, he returned to Anfield having managed only eight appearances - including just two starts - for the Yorkshire club.

Blades boss Chris Wilder said in October that Woodburn had done nothing wrong, with the form of others limiting his game time.


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