Josh Sheehan in shock after being handed Wales captaincy

-Credit: (Image: Getty)
-Credit: (Image: Getty)

Josh Sheehan admits he's still pinching himself after learning he's set to captain Wales for the very first time.

The Bolton Wanderers star is poised to lead what's expected to be a highly experimental line-up for the friendly with Gibraltar in Portugal on Thursday night. The midfielder has made six appearances, but has never started a game for Wales, and admits he was in shock when he learned he would be handed the armband.

"He told me this morning - he pulled me aside after breakfast and said 'you are playing tomorrow' and he just dropped in there 'you are going to be leading the boys out'," Sheehan said.

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"I couldn't really believe it to be honest - it's not something I thought was going to happen. I was happy to be playing the game and try to show what I am about. To lead the boys out is something you dream about."

Despite his lack of international experience, which started with an international debut in 2020, Sheehan boasts a fair amount of experience at club level, having made over senior 300 appearances, in a career that started at swansea-city-fc>Swansea City, and also included a three-year stint at Newport County

It's that level of experience, Sheehan believes, might well have been behind Page's decision.

"It's a younger group in this camp. I haven't played so many at internationals but I have played a lot of league games, so maybe he has taken that into consideration," Sheehan added.

"Hopefully I can show that on the pitch. For me playing for Wales was always the goal and to be captain was never part of my plans. To do it is something you will never forget."

The selection of Sheehan as captain arguably demonstrates how much Page intends to experiment for this fixture at the Estadio Algarve in Faro, Wales' first match since missing out on Euro 2024 qualification back in March.

Six uncapped players will be hoping to make their bow, including Lewis Koumas, Charlie Crew, Jay Dasilva, Fin Steves, Tom King, and Matt Baker.

There are also a number of first team stars missing, including captain Aaron Ramsey, goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, full-back Neco Williams, and midfielders David Brooks and Harry Wilson.

Wales met Gibraltar in another friendly back in October, and triumphed 4-0 in what was arguably the most straightforward assignment of Page's Wales reign at Wrexham's Racecourse.

The failure to quality for the latest European Championship has seen Page come in for criticism from some quarters.

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However, he has once again insisted that this is a team in transition ahead of the upcoming bid to qualify for World Cup 2026.

“I’ve made it pretty clear we are a team in transition,” Page said.

“Off the back of the World Cup we knew we needed athleticism in that team. I was loyal to the senior players to take them to the World Cup.

“Lessons learned, we had a new campaign, we were a penalty away in transition from reaching the Euros.

“We found people like JJ (James) and are trying to introduce some of the younger players into the squad.

“That’s exactly what I mean by transition, and now we need another couple to step up and strengthen us.

“I’m not going to keep saying it forever, but at this moment we’re still looking for those young players.”