Grainger announces Cymru squad for Pinatar Cup

by Martin Townley (8/2/23)

Above: Wales head coach Gemma Grainger announcing her squad today. Photo: FAW

Cymru manager Gemma Grainger has named her first squad after Cymru narrowly missed out on qualifying for the World Cup. 

There are many familiar names in the squad including Jess Fishlock, Helen Ward, and captain Sophie Ingle. 

There are also returns for Esther Morgan, Hannah Cain, Josie Green, and Ceri Holland along with a first call-up for Bethan Davies. 

Davies will be joining the squad mid-way though the Pinatar Cup to allow Safia Middleton-Davies to join the under 19’s in Portugal for a mini-tournament. 

Cymru will face the Philippines, Iceland, and Scotland at the tournament in Spain and Grainger is looking forward to the challenge. 

“Very excited about the squad that we’ve selected, we have a lot of our players available for selection, which is always a great thing for us.

“And I think, you know, coming out of the end of last year, reviewing the campaign, and now looking ahead to this window, this opportunity for the team to get back together and really kick on with momentum.

“So, it’s really exciting for us to be able to compete in the competition in Pinatar, the three games in six days is always a great challenge for us, you know, in terms of that preparation to deliver so really looking forward to seeing the players.”

Gemma Evans is in line to win her 50th cap at the tournament and the Cymru manager praised the defender,

“She’s a top player to play in the position that she does and in the league that she does for Reading.

 “She’s very much valued and one of the top defenders in the WSL, which, you could say is one of the best leagues in the world.

“You know, we’ve got many more years with Gemma Evans, and I only see her future being brighter and her getting better as a player.”

Grainger pointed to club form being an important part of who would make the starting XI.

“I think one of the things that we got to make sure is that our starting 11 can be as strong as possible and what that looks like and if that will look different, we’ll be very much down to the players in terms of the attitude away from camp and their club form.

“There are many things that we consider when it comes to starting 11 and squad selection.

“And what we want to do is make sure that the strength and depth of our team continues to grow the players and what will happen between now and September will give us an opportunity to be in the best position to put the best 11 out.”

With Cymru in a transitional period between qualifying campaigns, Grainger is confident that come the UEFA Nations League games in September that she will have all players still available. 

“I’m very confident, you know, in terms of every player in our team being available, we are in a transitional period when it comes to the end of the World Cup campaign and moving forward for the European campaign.

“But I think that the conversations that we need to have with players and how we want to work around that transition will be something that will happen in the coming weeks.”

Improvements on the pitch have been matched by improvements off the pitch as well.  A record crowd of over 15,000 saw Cymru’s World Cup Play-off match and Grainger is confident of those numbers continuing. 

“One of the things that we want to do is build the momentum both on and off the pitch, and I think that we’re very passionate about how we continue to break those records. One of the things that’s very important to this team and how passionate we are about creating that change and that meaningful social change both on and off the pitch.

“So that will be something that we absolutely aspire to do and continue to keep improving.”

Cymru Squad in Full:

Laura O’Sullivan (Cardiff City Ladies), Olivia Clark (Bristol City), Safia Middleton-Patel (Manchester United), Bethan Davies (Sheffield United), Rhiannon Roberts (Liverpool), Charlie Estcourt (Birmingham City), Hayley Ladd (Manchester United), Josie Green (Leicester City), Gemma Evans (Reading), Lily Woodham (Reading), Esther Morgan (Sunderland – On loan from Tottenham Hotspur), Sophie Ingle (Chelsea), Anna Filbey (Crystal Palace), Angharad James (Tottenham Hotspur), Jess Fishlock (OL Reign), Ceri Holland (Liverpool), Megan Wynne (Southampton), Kayleigh Green (Brighton and Hove Albion), Helen Ward (Watford), Elise Hughes (Crystal Palace), Georgia Walters (Sheffield United), Carrie Jones (Leicester City – On loan from Manchester United), Hannah Cain (Leicester City), Rachel Rowe (Reading), Ella Powell (Bristol City), Alice Griffiths (Southampton), Maria Francis-Jones (Sheffield United – on loan from Manchester City). 

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