World Cup 2022: The 26 Wales players carrying a nation’s hopes

Robert Page

Robert Page has named the 26 players who will represent Wales at their first World Cup in 64 years.

The squad features nine current Premier League players and eight from the Championship. There are two League One players, two from League Two, one from Scottish Premiership plus four who are currently playing their club football overseas – captain Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey, Joe Rodon and Ethan Ampadu.

Here BBC Wales profiles the men who will carry a nation’s hopes in Qatar.

WAYNE HENNESSEY

Age: 35 Caps: 106 Goals: 0

Wayne Hennessey

The Nottingham Forest goalkeeper has made only one club appearance this season, in the EFL Cup, having moved from Burnley last summer, though a lack of club action has rarely troubled him in the past.

Hennessey played second fiddle to Danny Ward at Euro 2020, but is favourite to start in goal in Qatar having regained the number one jersey.

DANNY WARD

Age: 29 Caps: 26 Goals: 0

Danny Ward

The former Liverpool keeper is finally getting some regular game-time at Leicester City following the summer exit of Kasper Schmeichel and, after the Foxes’ difficult start to the season, is starting to thrive.

Ward has played his part in Leicester’s climb out of the relegation places, and starred for Wales at the last major championship.

ADAM DAVIES

Age: 30 Caps: 4 Goals: 0

Adam Davies

Davies played three games for Sheffield United in October, his first club football since he joined the Blades from Stoke last January.

Davies, who has been picked ahead of Salford’s Tom King, featured for Wales in the Nations League last summer, but it would be a surprise if he sees any action in Qatar.

BEN CABANGO

Age: 22 Caps: 5 Goals: 0

Ben Cabango

Swansea City defender Cabango has not been a fixture in the national squad since Robert Page took the Wales reins, but makes the trip to Qatar thanks to his consistency in the Championship over the last couple of seasons.

A powerful centre-back who has become increasingly confident on the ball, Cabango was part of Wales’ squad at Euro 2020, though he did not feature.

TOM LOCKYER

Age: 25 Caps: 14 Goals: 0

Tom Lockyer

Luton Town centre-back Tom Lockyer is one of the more surprise inclusions in Rob Page’s squad.

The 27-year-old is a regular started at Luton, who have the seventh best defensive record in the Championship this season, but may not feature heavily in Qatar behind more established players.

BEN DAVIES

Age: 29 Caps: 74 Goals: 1

Ben Davies

A senior squad member and key defensive player for Wales, Davies heads into the World Cup having been in fine form for Tottenham Hotspur.

Capable of playing left-back or at the heart of defence, Davies was a regular at Euro 2016 and Euro 2020 and can expect to be a central figure once more in Qatar.

CHRIS GUNTER

Age: 33 Caps: 109 Goals: 0

Chris Gunter

He may be playing club football in League Two these days, but Gunter was always going to make Page’s 26-man party for Qatar because of his influence and status within the Wales squad.

The chances are the veteran right-back – Wales’ most-capped male player – may not get much football at this tournament but, when called upon, he has rarely let his country down.

CHRIS MEPHAM

Age: 25 Caps: 33 Goals: 0

Chris Mepham

The centre-back heads into the World Cup on the back of arguably the best run of club form in his career, having been a regular for Bournemouth in the Premier League this season.

Mepham, who played three games at Euro 2020, is also well established in the Wales side and can expect to start against the USA.

CONNOR ROBERTS

Age: 27 Caps: 41 Goals: 3

Connor Roberts

Roberts has not always been in Burnley’s starting side of late – although he has had regular football – but it would be a shock if he does not have a big role to play for his country.

Roberts’ athleticism, energy and ability to make potent bursts forward make him an important part of Page’s team.

JOE RODON

Age: 25 Caps: 30 Goals: 0

Joe Rodon

Rodon may have struggled to make his mark at Tottenham – hence he is on loan with French club Rennes – but the former Swansea centre-back has consistently impressed for Wales.

Having been a fringe figure at Spurs, Rodon heads to Qatar having got football under his belt this season in Ligue 1 and the Europa League.

NECO WILLIAMS

Age: 21 Caps: 23 Goals: 2

Neco Williams

Williams thrived at Fulham last season, helping them win promotion to the Premier League while on loan from Liverpool, prompting a big-money move to Nottingham Forest last summer.

Now getting used to life playing regular, top-flight football, wing-back Williams is another who looks a shoo-in for the starting side when Wales take the field against the Americans.

JOE ALLEN

Age: 32 Caps: 72 Goals: 2

Joe Allen

Part of the generation of high-class performers who have secured three major championship appearances in the last six years, Allen is one of Page’s most important players.

It is a huge worry, therefore, that the midfielder has not played since September because of a hamstring issue.

ETHAN AMPADU

Age: 22 Caps: 37 Goals: 0

Ethan Ampadu

Whether operating in defence or midfield, Ampadu can probably expect a bigger role in Qatar than he had at Euro 2020, where he started only one of Wales’ games.

He heads to the World Cup having played fairly regularly so far this season for Spezia, who are struggling in Serie A.

DYLAN LEVITT

Age: 21 Caps: 13 Goals: 0

Dylan Levitt

More than two years on from his international debut, Levitt was no certainty to land a World Cup call, though he featured at Euro 2020 and has been a regular in recent Wales squads.

The midfielder joined Dundee United on a permanent deal last summer having been voted player of the year by the club’s supporters last season, when he was on loan from Manchester United.

JOE MORRELL

Age: 25 Caps: 30 Goals: 0

Joe Morrell

Morrell continues to fight to establish himself at club level, having been in and out of the Portsmouth side so far this season, but is another player who has rarely let Wales down.

Started all four of Wales’ games at Euro 2020 and, with doubts over Joe Allen’s fitness, he could have a big role to play once more.

AARON RAMSEY

Age: 31 Caps: 75 Goals: 20

Aaron Ramsey

Aside from Gareth Bale, Ramsey is the stellar name in the Wales squad. A succession of injury problems have limited his impact in recent times, but he will surely have a significant part to play if Page’s side are to make an impression in Qatar.

He has made 15 appearances for Nice since joining the French club following his Juventus exit last summer, though only four of those have been league starts and he has managed just one goal.

MATT SMITH

Age: 22 Caps: 19 Goals: 0

Matt Smith

The Manchester City youth product goes to a second major championship after making the squad – but not making it onto the pitch – at Euro 2020.

Opportunities may be limited once more for the midfielder, though he has had game-time with League One strugglers MK Dons this season.

SORBA THOMAS

Age: 23 Caps: 6 Goals: 0

Sorba Thomas

A couple of years on from playing non-league football and working as a scaffolder, wide player Thomas is off to the World Cup.

It has been difficult season so far for Championship strugglers Huddersfield Town, but 23-year-old Thomas has contributed an impressive six assists.

JONNY WILLIAMS

Age: 29 Caps: 32 Goals: 2

Jonny Williams

Williams has scored six goals so far this season for League Two promotion hopefuls Swindon Town, having joined them in 2021 after being released by Cardiff City.

His minutes in a Wales shirt have been limited in recent times, but the popular Williams is known for making an impact in the dressing room even if he does not get onto the pitch.

GARETH BALE

Age: 33 Caps: 108 Goals: 40

Gareth Bale

Wales’ talisman and the key figure in the recent successes enjoyed by a nation who struggled for decades to get a seat at football’s top table.

Bale has proved time and again that when fit and firing, he is capable of changing games at the highest level. As they prepare for a first World Cup appearance in 64 years, Wales must hope he is fit and firing.

RUBIN COLWILL

Age: 20 Caps: 7 Goals: 1

Rubin Colwill

The shock inclusion in Wales’ Euro 2020 squad gets the nod from Page once more despite struggling with injury this season.

Colwill is an attacking midfielder who has shown he is capable of opening teams up, yet he is without a goal or an assist in 2022-23 and has not played since Wales’ Nations League loss to Poland in September.

MARK HARRIS

Age: 23 Caps: 5 Goals: 0

Mark Harris

Harris heads to his first major tournament having scored three goals for Cardiff City this season.

The striker has made little impact at international level as yet, although his opportunities have been limited.

DANIEL JAMES

Age: 24 Caps: 38 Goals: 5

Daniel James

A fixture in the Wales side under Page, former Manchester United winger James will surely have a big role to play in Qatar.

James is a hard worker who offers a considerable threat on the counter – although he is yet to score this season having joined Fulham on loan from Leeds.

BRENNAN JOHNSON

Age: 21 Caps: 15 Goals: 2

Brennan Johnson

Like Daniel James, Johnson is a player capable of striking fear into opponents thanks to his pace and directness.

After his spectacular contribution to Nottingham Forest’s Championship promotion success in 2021-22, Johnson – like his club – has found life a little harder in the Premier League, but he has proved in his relatively brief Wales career that he can thrive at international level.

KIEFFER MOORE

Age: 30 Caps: 29 Goals: 9

Kieffer Moore

First there was a European Championship, now it is the World Cup for the one-time lifeguard who played for England C in his non-league days.

Moore’s power and aerial presence mean he is like no other forward at Page’s disposal, and the Bournemouth striker has proved to be a very useful asset since his first Wales call-up in 2019.

HARRY WILSON

Age: 25 Caps: 38 Goals: 5

Harry Wilson

Given that Wilson is only 25, it is remarkable to think his international debut came almost a decade ago.

Whether he starts or comes off the bench, the gifted attacking midfielder can expect work in Qatar having returned to action with Fulham in October following a significant knee injury which at one stage prompted concerns over his World Cup involvement.

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