Wales' next generation: Ethan Ampadu and Ben Woodburn among Welsh prospects
Wales face Republic of Ireland and Denmark, live on Sky Sports, in the UEFA Nations League
By Nick Wright
Last Updated: 06/09/18 7:42pm
Ryan Giggs named seven players aged 21 or under in his Wales squad for their UEFA Nations League fixtures, but who are their next generation?
Wales face Republic of Ireland in Cardiff on Wednesday night before continuing their Group B4 campaign away against Denmark on Sunday afternoon, with both games live on Sky Sports.
So what do we know about the young players hoping to impress Giggs and follow in the footsteps of Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey?
Chelsea's Ampadu is arguably the most exciting member of Wales' next generation. The Exeter youth product only turns 18 later this month, but he is a thrilling prospect who chose to represent Wales over England and has already featured in their senior squad, making his debut in a friendly against France last year.
How good is Ampadu?
The story of Ethan Ampadu's rapid rise from Exeter's academy to Chelsea's first-team.
Ampadu is a ball-playing centre-back who is also capable of playing in midfield, and he has already worked his way into senior contention at club level as well as internationally. He made seven first-team appearances for Chelsea under Antonio Conte in 2017/18 and featured prominently during pre-season under Maurizio Sarri.
Mepham was on Chelsea's books as a youngster but it is with west London neighbours Brentford that he has made his senior breakthrough. The 20-year-old centre-back has made 27 Championship appearances since his first match for the Bees last season, and he is already a senior Wales international having made his debut in March.
Mepham's performances for Brentford attracted interest from Premier League sides, with Bournemouth and Leicester among those reported to have expressed an interest during the summer. Brentford managed to keep hold of him, but he might find himself with more suitors if he can transfer his club form to the international stage.
Smith, 18, joined Manchester City's academy from West Brom at the age of 14 and this summer moved on loan to FC Twente, where he has already made three appearances in the Dutch second tier.
The midfielder was handed his first senior Wales call-up for their friendly with Mexico in May, coming off the bench for his debut in the closing stages. Giggs praised his contribution afterwards, and he will now be eager for more game-time against the Republic of Ireland and Denmark.
Woodburn, another rising star who chose to represent Wales over England, is the most established of Giggs' young guns. The 18-year-old Liverpool youngster has won seven caps in total and scored his first goal when he netted a stunning strike in a World Cup qualifier against Austria last year.
He already has a place in Liverpool's history books having become their youngest ever scorer with his goal in their League Cup quarter-final meeting against Leeds in November 2016, but Jurgen Klopp has warned against burdening him with too much expectation. This season, he is continuing his development on loan at Sheffield United in the Championship.
Wilson is another Liverpool youngster with a big future at international level. The 21-year-old has only won four caps for his country despite making his debut in 2013, but he scored his first goal during their China Cup trip in March.
That came after an impressive loan spell at Hull City in the Championship, where he scored seven goals and provided three assists in just 13 appearances. The Tigers were eager to take him back on loan for the 2018/19 campaign, but he ended up joining Frank Lampard's Derby, where he hopes to pick up where he left off in the second tier.
Brooks switched allegiance from England to Wales at youth level and is now hoping to carve out his place in their senior side - for whom he has already won three caps. The Manchester-born midfielder, 21, came through City's academy before moving to Sheffield United as a teenager.
He impressed for the Blades in the Championship last season, earning an £11.5m move to Bournemouth. Eddie Howe is a big admirer of Brooks, starting him in three Premier League games so far this season, and he is highly-rated by Giggs, too. Last year, he was named man of the match when he made his first start for Wales in a friendly against Panama.
Roberts has represented Wales from U17 level but his call-up for the Republic of Ireland and Denmark games was his first at senior level. The 19-year-old old forward came through West Brom's academy before moving to Leeds in January, and there have also been loan spells at Oxford, Shrewsbury and Walsall.
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