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Ethan Ampadu set to be handed Wales captaincy in Aaron Ramsey absence

Leeds midfielder Ethan Ampadu is set to captain Wales in friendlies against Gibraltar and Slovakia this week (Ben Birchall/PA)
Leeds midfielder Ethan Ampadu is set to captain Wales in friendlies against Gibraltar and Slovakia this week (Ben Birchall/PA)

Ethan Ampadu seems set to end his marathon season with the Wales captaincy.

Wales are without regular skipper Aaron Ramsey for this week’s friendlies against Gibraltar and Slovakia as the veteran midfielder has stayed at home following an injury-plagued campaign at Cardiff.

Vice-captain Ben Davies has joined up with Rob Page’s squad, but the defender will be a spectator for the two games because of the calf injury that ended his Tottenham season prematurely.

Wales will be without captain Aaron Ramsey (left) and vice-captain Ben Davies (right) for end-of-season friendlies against Gibraltar and Slovakia (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Ampadu’s Leeds team-mate Joe Rodon withdrew from the squad on Monday, paving the way for the 23-year-old to lead Wales out against Gibraltar in Portugal on Thursday and the trip to Trnava three days later.

Wales manager Rob Page said: “Ethan’s had the armband at Leeds and he is definitely captain material.

“He’s shown that at Leeds and he’s definitely one for the future.

“You look at the players we’ve got in the squad and we’re spoiled a little bit, even the younger ones have got experience.”

The 51-times capped Ampadu started every one of Leeds’ 46 Championship matches, as well as the three play-off games that ended with Wembley defeat to Southampton and missing out on promotion to the Premier League.

Queens Park Rangers v Leeds United – Sky Bet Championship – MATRADE Loftus Road Stadium
Ethan Ampadu wore the Leeds armband for much of the 2023-24 season (Steven Paston/PA)

“I saw a stat that out of all the European footballers Ethan has played the most minutes this season,” said Page.

“That doesn’t surprise me. He’s robust, has got the quality you want, and is not afraid to experience different cultures and different leagues.

“He’s gone to Germany and Italy and played in the Premier League.

“Those experiences have made him the person and player he is today. He’s an absolute gentleman.”

Page said there was no thought of giving Ampadu a rest after playing over 60 games for club and country this season, saying: “These games are important for us and the lads want to come and play.”

Daniel James has also been included for the end-of-season trip after requiring several stitches in a head wound suffered at Wembley.

The Leeds winger’s last international appearance in March ended in penalty shoot-out despair when he saw his spot-kick against Poland saved to dash Wales’ dream of reaching Euro 2024.

“We’ve had conversations since the Poland game,” said Page.

“He went straight back into the Leeds team. You have to deal with the disappointment and I thought he handled himself with class.

“I knew how disappointed he would be, and that’s why I went straight to him at the end of the game.

Wales v Poland – UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifying – Play Off Final – Cardiff City Stadium

Daniel James (right) is consoled after missing the decisive penalty in Wales’ Euro 2024 play-off final shoot-out defeat to Poland in March (Nick Potts/PA)

“He’s got a good support network around him and will be all right. It’s not a pleasant experience to go through, but he’s shown in his performances for Leeds since that he’s OK.

“DJ has been through a lot in the last 10 years. He’s played for one of the biggest clubs in world football at Man United and had to deal with that.

“That’s pressure on its own, so he’s more than capable of dealing with it. Got no issues with him at all.”

Stoke defender Matt Baker has received his first senior call-up with Connor Roberts also withdrawing from the squad.