Rangel, Shawcross and Turner suggested
16 July ~ Wales manager Chris Coleman has been quick to recognise the problem suffered by all his predecessors: Wales have a limited pool of players he can dip into. Throughout their history, Wales have struggled to field a team with real quality in each position. The clearest example of this was the team of the 1980s that had Ian Rush, Mark Hughes and Dean Saunders up front supported by players such as Everton pair Neville Southall and Kevin Ratcliffe at the back. However, this side also had a limited midfield. Unless you are a keen Wales supporter, I would be surprised if you can name any of them.
The current Wales team has the opposite problem. There is an abundance of talent in midfield, including Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen and Gareth Bale, but restricted options in attack and defence. Coleman was clearly looking to supplement his limited pool of defenders late last week when he raised the possibility of Swansea's Angel Rangel, Cardiff's Ben Turner and Stoke's Ryan Shawcross being approached to play for Wales.
The plan began to unravel pretty quickly, however, as the Football Association of Wales subsequently announced that Rangel, who was born and raised in Spain, is not eligible and never will be. Although the 29-year-old has resided in the country for five years, since joining Swansea from Terrassa in 2007, the association have confirmed that Rangel is not eligible under an agreement the four home nations made with FIFA in 2009.
Other than birthplace, parents or grandparents, players can only represent one of the home nations if they have had five years of continuous education up to the age of 18 in that country. This slightly embarrassing scenario could presumably have been avoided with better communication between the association and their manager.
Rangel had previously indicated that he would be happy to play for Wales, but Coleman's comments regarding Shawcross seem even more misguided. Given the history between Shawcross and Ramsey, it seems strange that Coleman would raise this issue publicly without discussing it with his captain first. A poor tackle from Shawcross broke Ramsey's leg during a match between Stoke and Arsenal in February 2010; Ramsey has since declined to accept Shawcross's apology.
The issue seems even more bizarre given that Shawcross, who is qualified to play for Wales or England, has never shown any inclination to be selected by Wales. He has always maintained that he considers himself English and reiterated this stance on Twitter, saying: "Still focused on getting in the England squad, despite what's in the media."
Turner, who has played for England Under-19s but has a Welsh grandmother, may turn out to be both qualified and interested in representing Wales. If so, Coleman may gain one competent defender from this saga. Although he would have been better off checking the facts about the players quietly before going public. Paul Ashley-Jones