by Callum Ellis
WALES Under-21 manager Rob Page says Swansea City’s Joe Rodon and Manchester City’s Rabbi Matondo have bright futures ahead.
Wales currently sit fifth in Group Eight in their bid to reach the European Under-21 Championships in 2021.
Page’s side host Lichtenstein in Bangor today (September 8) before welcoming Portugal four days later.
The former Watford defender highlighted the bright future of Welsh football, but paid a special mention to both Rodon and Matondo.
“It’s a good part of the job when you see the younger players going through and playing for the first team,” said Page.
Swansea defender Rodon has featured four times in the Championship under manager Graham Potter this season, and Page says playing in the second tier will benefit him.
“I think he’s benefitted from them getting relegated. He would have possibly had to go back out on loan again like he did last year.
“I’ve seen him play under-23s football and thought he was in cruise control. It’s frustrating for myself when I see young players playing football that, what I don’t think, suits their needs.
“He needed to get out and play football if they had stayed in the Premiership. He’s been given that opportunity to play Championship football and once again he’s grabbed it with both hands.”
While Matondo has impressed for Manchester City’s under-23 side after netting three goals in the opening three games of the Premier League 2 season.
He travelled with Pep Guardiola’s first team for their pre-season tour of the United States, and Page highlighted his pace as a key attribute of his playing style.
“He’s doing really well. I took him to Georgia with me in the summer for two games and he came on for 20 minutes in the first one [game] and gave me everything.
“He should have scored and setup another chance that we should have scored. When you’ve got pace like he’s got, I think the speed testing that they done at the end of the season last year, he was the fastest than all the players throughout the club.
“He’s had a good pre-season with them and developing really nicely. It’s really encouraging for the future of Welsh football.”
Page also looked ahead to Wales’ double-header in Bangor next month as his side look to bounce back from their defeat against Bosnia in March.
“Portugal were outstanding when we played them away. We beat Switzerland 3-0 away on the Friday and played Portugal away on the Tuesday.
“It was a big ask and we fell short, but I wasn’t too hard on the players because they gave me everything. It will be a different test as Lichtenstein might come and park the bus and try to counter-attack which is what they did at home. Let’s hope for two wins.”
The U21’s return to UEFA Under 21 qualifying today against Liechtenstein at Bangor FC. Kick off 6pm.