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Liverpool's Neco Williams handed maiden Wales call-up, Gareth Bale also included

Liverpool's Neco Williams handed maiden Wales call-up, Gareth Bale also included
© Reuters
Liverpool full-back Neco Williams, 19, also qualifies for England.

Neco Williams and Ben Cabango have been handed first senior Wales call-ups for the Nations League games against Finland and Bulgaria as Hal Robson-Kanu returns to the international scene.

Manager Ryan Giggs has named a 26-man squad for the September double-header, with Gareth Bale included after being frozen out by Real Madrid and playing only 48 minutes since Spanish football returned in June after its coronavirus lockdown.

Liverpool full-back Williams, who would have been called up for the cancelled March friendlies against Austria and the United States, is included for the first time after his breakthrough season at Anfield.

Manchester City v Liverpool – Premier League – Etihad Stadium
Liverpool’s Neco Williams (left) picked up a Premier League winner’s medal in his breakthrough season at Anfield (Laurence Griffiths/NMC Pool/PA)

The 19-year-old – who won a Premier League winner’s medal after making six league appearances last season – has been capped by Wales at Under-19 level, but also qualifies for England through his English grandparents.

It had been reported that England manager Gareth Southgate was monitoring Williams, but it now appears as if the Wrexham-born defender has nailed his colours to the Welsh mast.

Swansea centre-half Cabango is also rewarded for a breakthrough season in the Sky Bet Championship when he made 21 appearances and helped Steve Cooper’s side into the end-of-season play-offs.

The 20-year-old is joined by Charlton midfielder Jonathan Williams and Bournemouth forward David Brooks, who both return after injury, and West Brom striker Robson-Kanu who retired from international football two years ago.

Swansea City v Charlton Athletic – Sky Bet Championship – Liberty Stadium
Swansea defender Ben Cabango wins his first Wales senior call-up (Nigel French/PA)

Robson-Kanu, a goalscoring hero at Euro 2016, won the last of his 44 caps against the Republic of Ireland in October 2017.

He has not played under Giggs and told the former Manchester United star in August 2018 that he wanted to quit international football and focus on his club career.

But Robson-Kanu reversed that decision late last year and Giggs has now included him in his plans with the postponed 2020 European Championship just over nine months away.

Veteran defenders Chris Gunter, Wales’ most capped player with 96 appearances, and Ashley Williams are both retained despite both being without a club at present.

Chris Mepham, Joe Allen and Joe Rodon miss out through injury.

Neil Taylor, Regan Poole, Sam Vokes and Tom Lawrence were in the squad which secured Euro 2020 qualification last November but do not feature this time.

Squad: Hennessey (Crystal Palace), Ward (Leicester), A Davies (Stoke), Gunter, A Williams (both unattached), B Davies (Tottenham), C Roberts (Swansea), Lockyer (Charlton), Lawrence (Anderlecht), Cabango (Swansea), N Williams (Liverpool), Ampadu (Chelsea), Smith (Man City), Levitt (Man Utd), Vaulks (Cardiff), Morrell (Bristol City), Ramsey (Juventus), J Williams (Charlton), Wilson (Liverpool), Brooks (Bournemouth), James (Man Utd), Bale (Real Madrid), Robson-Kanu (West Brom), T Roberts (Leeds), Matondo (Schalke), Moore (Cardiff).

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