Crew call a 'no-brainer' for Wales boss

Charlie Crew
Charlie Crew has come through Wales' age-group sides to earn his senior squad call [FAW]

The rise and rise of Leeds United youngster Charlie Crew continues at pace.

Wales manager Rob Page has accelerated the elevation of the teenage midfielder by selecting him for the friendlies away to Gibraltar on Thursday, 6 June and the trip to Slovakia three days later.

Though Crew, 17, is yet to make a senior outing for Leeds, Page described the youngster’s selection as a “no brainer”.

“He has loads of potential and that is the key. That is the word for it at the minute," Page said.

“I want to have a look at him first-hand. I want to work with him and train with him. I have had reports from (Wales Under-21 coaches) Mattie Jones and Rich Williams about him.

“Physically we need to be patient and wait for him to develop, but with regards to his football ability he is special.”

At international level Crew has raced through the Wales age-group levels from the Under-15s to the Under-21s.

He began his football journey at the age of nine with the academy of his hometown club Cardiff City, before moving to Elland Road in 2022. He signed his first professional deal with Leeds in 2023.

Last season he appeared in several matchday squads for the Championship club and was on the bench three times. He also made 14 appearances in the club’s Under-21s in Premier League Two.

Though Crew is also qualified for England and there were suggestions the Football Association (FA) might be interested in him, he has been nurtured through the Welsh set-up.

Page believes studying Crew at close quarters – along with uncapped squad members Lewis Koumas and Fin Stephens – can provide a silver lining to the cloud of failing to qualify for the Euro 2024 Championship finals.

The Wales manager said: “He is a player. We are all disappointed we did not qualify for the Euros. So would he (Crew) have been selected for the squad to go to the Euros? Probably not.

“I would have allowed him to develop nicely with the younger age groups.

“But now the potential he has shown at Leeds, being involved with that group of players and listening to the manager (Daniel Farke) and how he speaks about him and having seen him myself... he has talent in abundance.

“I am taking him away with us to expose him to the first-team lads and the culture, and he will be better for that in the next few weeks.”

Page cites the case of Birmingham City midfielder Jordan James - who became a regular in the Wales senior side over the Euro 2024 qualifiers - as an example of how fast-forwarding a youngster through the international ranks can benefit their careers.

Fellow squad member James has already accumulated 10 caps at the age of 19.

“I will always give the kids an opportunity,” said Page. "Who would have seen what JJ (James) has done when we threw him in the deep end? He has been absolutely flying.

“We want to continue to do that, I want the lads to be pushed and the lads mentioned have done that at club level. They have done it because they tick a lot of boxes.

“They obviously train at the right intensity, they work hard and they have an abundance of ability. So I am looking forward to working with them.”