Simon Hayward on Welsh youth international call-ups

Academy Manager on news of Young Dragons selections

Exeter City’s Academy Manager Simon Hayward was understandably pleased that another duo of youth products have been selected for international football in the shape of Ethan Ampadu and Max Smallcombe.

The pair have been called up to the Wales Under-16 squad to face France in a pair of fixtures this week at Dragon Park, Newport.

The news follows the recent appearance of Matt Grimes and Christy Pym at England Under-20 level as they took on Romania at New Bucks Head, Telford, earlier this month.

And now the young pair of Ampadu (14) and Smallcombe (15) will become youth internationals as they link up with their teammates from the Young Dragons at the FAW’s National Football Development Centre.

“Matt Grimes and Christy Pym were the first youth internationals that we’ve had during my time at the club, so hot on the heels of that I’m delighted that another two of our young Academy prospects are being recognised,” said Hayward.

“Max Smallcombe has been excellent over a number of years and a consistent performer and we offered him his scholarship early, so we’re looking forward to him joining us full-time next year.

“We know what a good young player Ethan Ampadu is but we’re a touch surprised that an under-14 player has been selected to player international football at under-16 level.  He has played with our under-16s and done well, and he’s even dipped his toe in the water with our under-18s and done well, but to be selected to play international football two years above his age-group is outstanding.

“They are both very decent young men with a wonderful attitude and I’m sure they’ll do very well.

“It’s a wonderful chance for two of our Academy boys to follow in the footsteps of Matt and Christy and to be challenged and pick up new experiences in international football.

“We have a lot of good young players that we believe in and we’re working hard, and we hope that there are more to follow in the footsteps of Matt, Christy, Ethan and Max at international level.”