Wales to take Luke Harris and Jordan James to World Cup with ‘one eye on future’

Uncapped teenagers Jordan James and Luke Harris will travel with Wales’ World Cup squad to Qatar.

Birmingham midfielder James and highly-rated Fulham prospect Harris both missed out on selection when Wales manager Robert Page named his 26-man squad on Wednesday.

But Page has confirmed that the pair, who both featured in Wales’ last Nations League squad in September, will join Gareth Bale and company in the Gulf this month.

Wales v Netherlands – UEFA Nations League – Group A4 – Cardiff City Stadium
Wales manager Robert Page will take uncapped pair Jordan James and Luke Harris to Qatar to train with his World Cup squad (Zac Goodwin/PA)

He said: “We brought them into the last camp and were really impressed. I think it is important now we have one eye on the future.

“March comes around fast and we have to have one eye on that (the start of Euro 2024 qualification) as much as the World Cup is on us.

“I want to expose Luke and JJ to the environment and get them training with us on and off the pitch to see how they conduct themselves.

“So then in March, or in the future whenever the senior boys decide they don’t want to play for Wales anymore, then it won’t be too much of a culture shock.

“They will have seen how we work and the change won’t be as severe.”

Hereford-born James, 18, was capped by England at Under-20 level in March before returning to the Wales set-up, while 17-year-old attacking midfielder Harris made his Premier League debut for Fulham last month.

The end of major tournaments often mark a natural cut-off point for international playing careers.

Wales will head to Qatar with several players on the wrong side of 30, among them skipper Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen and Chris Gunter.

Page said: “What I don’t want is eight players to change and then the environment completely changes.

“You have to be sympathetic how you do it. That is really important so we are not losing the environment.

“If Gareth can have a massive influence for however long he wants to continue playing, brilliant.

“Luke and JJ are going to train with us every day. We will do some analysis with them in the afternoon and show the individual where they play, how we play and what I expect from them.

“We will expose them to the Welsh way, and the way we play, and feed that back to them in the afternoon.

World Cup Teams File Photos
Captain Gareth Bale is among the group of experienced Wales players in their thirties (Mike Egerton/PA)

“They will eat with the players and go to the games. They won’t play but will be exposed to the environment of a major tournament, which I think is valuable.”

Having named Wales’ first World Cup squad for 64 years, Page now has an anxious time in store with his players involved in the final club action before the tournament.

He said: “It’s going to be a nervous weekend, waiting to make sure everyone gets through it with no injuries.

“We’re probably past the point of no return, knowing the chances are that if someone picks up an injury they are not going to be fit to play and not be part of the squad.”