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Page last updated at 20:10 GMT, Tuesday, 7 October 2008 21:10 UK

Ramsey compared to star Fabregas

Uefa European U21 Championship qualifying play-off: Wales v England
Date: Friday, 10 October Kick-off: 1945 BST Venue: Ninian Park, Cardiff
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru and online

Aaron Ramsey
Aaron Ramsey is tipped to be Wales' next superstar

Teenage sensation Aaron Ramsey has the potential to be as good as Arsenal hero and team-mate Cesc Fabregas.

Wales Under-21 manager Brian Flynn hailed his 17-year-old talisman ahead of their two-legged UEFA European Championship play-off.

The 5m ace is seen as the long-term superstar successor to Ryan Giggs

"At this stage, this age, he is as good as Cesc Fabregas," said Flynn. "He is a top-six Premier League player and a top international anywhere in Europe."

Ramsey joined Arsenal from Cardiff City for 5m in the summer and Flynn said: "I've been watching Aaron since he was 14.

"He can be anything he wants to be in the game.

"He is quite something, and I can compare him to one of the best youngsters in the world in Fabregas.

"He is very close to being a senior international but we want him to help the under-21s first. He even speaks Welsh, he ticks all the boxes!"

606: DEBATE

Flynn accepts Ramsey has a lot to learn but is delighted he will do so under the studious gaze of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, whose ability for spotting and nurturing talent is unsurpassed.

"He can be a major influence for us," admitted Flynn.

"He always has time on the ball. He has a combination of a lot of things for a midfield player.

"He has fantastic energy and is always positive. He can shoot, pass and create. He needs to get into the box more, but he's just 17. It will all come.

"I play him in front of a midfield four; Arsenal will find out his best position and he is at a great club to progress from.

"He could have gone to Manchester United and he was very impressed with David Moyes at Everton.

"He had a great choice but he has chosen well. Arsene Wenger will look after him well there.

"He is in a good group of youngsters there and Wenger has a track record of producing huge talents. Ramsey will be a star at Arsenal."

Ramsey will play an integral part for Flynn's Wales as they face the old enemy England in their European Championship play-off.

Friday's first leg clash is at Cardiff's Ninian Park and Stockport County keeper says Wales should have no fear against England's Premier League superstars.

"We're very confident," said Stockport County goalkeeper Williams.

"Everyone is so excited and we're all ready. It's something I've dreamed of since I was a little boy - playing for Wales and also playing against England."

Both England and Wales topped their qualifying groups to reach this play-off, with the winners advancing to join hosts Sweden in next summer's finals.

Wales had to beat a well-regarded Romania side away in their final match to claim top spot and Williams says that experience will serve them well.

"We played Romania at home in Wrexham and lost 1-0, but knew we had to play them again away," Williams said.

"We won 3-0, so we just have to carry that performance into Friday night's game and then Tuesday night."

England are without stars Aaron Lennon and Micah Richards after the pair suffered injuries in last weekend's Premier League fixtures.

England U21 manager Stuart Pearce still boasts a strong England squad that includes Premier League regulars Gabriel Agbonlahor, David Wheater, James Milner and Mark Noble.

Pearce, meanwhile, has also called Southampton's 20-year-old midfielder Adam Lallana into his party for the first time.

Lallana is one of only three players in the squad to be uncapped at under-21 level, alongside Chelsea defender Ryan Bertrand, currently on loan at Norwich, and Wolves' in-form striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake

Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey is the only high-profile name in Wales' squad.

But West Ham midfielder Jack Collison has given Wales U21 manager Brian Flynn a lift.

Collison played his first game of the season after knee trouble last week for the West Ham reserves in a 4-3 win against West Brom.

Captain Joe Jacobson also returns to the squad after injury.

Wayne Hennessey, Chris Gunter, Gareth Bale, Joe Ledley and Sam Vokes were all eligible to play for the Under-21s.

But they have been named in John Toshack's senior squad for World Cup qualifying matches against Liechtenstein (11 October) and Germany (15 October).

Highly rated Middlesbrough centre-back Rhys Williams is out of contention after damaging his knee ligaments.

Flynn is bidding to take a Wales soccer team into a major finals for the first time since the 1958 World Cup.

And he is confident of upsetting the odds by beating England.

He said: "People over here disregarded our chances in Romania (in the final group game which saw them reach the play-offs).

"We had to go there to win because a draw was not good enough.

"Romania hadn't lost for 18 games.

"We are capable of upsetting the odds, that's for certain."

The countries last met in a friendly in Wrexham in May when Flynn's youngsters were defeated 2-0.

Tom Huddlestone, who is included in the latest squad, and Theo Walcott, who will not be involved this time due to senior England responsibilities, scored the goals that night.

"That result in May probably flattered us on the day, we didn't play particularly well," said England coach Pearce.

"Wales at this level are the strongest they have been in their history.

"They have seven players with full caps. There are not too many countries in Europe that can boast that."


Wales Under-21 squad:
Owain Fn Williams (Stockport County), Rhys Taylor (Chelsea), Neal Eardley (Oldham Athletic), Grant Basey (Charlton Athletic), Darcy Blake (Cardiff City), Joe Jacobson (Bristol Rovers), Lloyd James (Southampton), Rhoys Wiggins (Crystal Palace), Mike Williams, Marc Williams (both Wrexham), Nicky Adams (Leicester City), Joe Allen (Swansea City), Mark Bradley (Walsall), Jack Collison (WHU), Andy King (Leicester City), Shaun MacDonald (Swansea City), Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal), Jonathan Brown (Cardiff City), Simon Church (Reading), Josh Klein-Davies (Bristol Rovers).

England Under-21 squad:
Joe Hart (Manchester City), Tom Heaton (Manchester Utd), Joe Lewis (Peterborough); Ryan Bertrand (Chelsea), Martin Cranie (Portsmouth), Craig Gardner (Aston Villa), Michael Mancienne (Chelsea), Stephen Taylor (Newcastle), David Wheater (Middlesbrough); Lee Cattermole (Wigan), Tom Huddlestone (Tottenham), Adam Johnson (Middlesbrough), Adam Lallana (Southampton), James Milner (Aston Villa), Fabrice Muamba (Bolton), Mark Noble (West Ham), Jamie O'Hara (Tottenham); Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa), Frazier Campbell (Manchester United), Matt Derbyshire (Blackburn), Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (Wolves).


see also
Wales suffer Ledley injury blow
06 Oct 08 |  Internationals
Villa to host decisive U21 clash
23 Sep 08 |  Internationals
Williams injury strikes Wales U21
18 Sep 08 |  Middlesbrough
England & Wales in U21 play-off
12 Sep 08 |  Internationals
Wales' international fixtures
22 Aug 07 |  Internationals
Wales' results archive
10 Oct 05 |  Internationals
Pick your Wales XI
05 Feb 07 |  Internationals
BBC Sport Wales coverage
23 Mar 08 |  Wales


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