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Wes Burns eyes Wales debut six years after being on Euros standby
The 27-year-old wing-back was top scorer at Ipswich last season.
Six years after flying to France to join Wales’ Euro 2016 squad, Wes Burns is finally in sight of winning an elusive first cap.
Burns was rewarded for an outstanding first season at Ipswich with a late call into the Wales squad for a World Cup play-off final and four Nations League games in June.
The 27-year-old could now make his debut against Poland in Wroclaw on Wednesday, with boss Robert Page set to stand down several regulars ahead of Sunday’s World Cup decider against Scotland or Ukraine.
“I was buzzing to get called up, it’s been a whirlwind couple of days,” Burns said from Wales’ training camp in Portugal.
“I was in Ipswich at the time on holiday and the gaffer called to say you need to get yourself down to Cardiff as we fly to Portugal tomorrow.
“All my family are from Wales and it would be the proudest moment of my career to pull on that shirt.”
Burns has fought his way into the Wales setup the hard way during a career that has brought as many lows as highs.
He was shown the door by hometown club Cardiff at the age of 16 and loan spells peppered his four years at Bristol City.
It was not until joining Fleetwood in 2017 that Burns secured regular football.
Four years on the Fylde coast brought more than 175 senior appearances before he moved on to Ipswich last summer.
Burns finished as Ipswich’s top scorer with 13 goals from wing-back and was named in the Sky Bet League One team of the season, resurrecting a Wales dream that had appeared lost.
He said: “2016 was the last time I was in a senior camp. I was in the bigger (29-man) squad for the Euros before they had to trim it down.
“Then Tom Lawrence got injured and the manager Chris Coleman told me to fly out to France just in case.
“I was only there a couple of days and they didn’t need me, but it was a massive learning experience for me.
“I was so close, but so far. But just being part of it was the main thing for me. I was very young at the time and I took a lot of that back into my football back home.
“Leaving Bristol City was probably the best thing for my career as Fleetwood gave me the platform to gather the experience of playing regular football.
“No disrespect to Fleetwood, but I’ve made the step up now to a much bigger club where the pressure is on to get promoted.”
Burns rejoins the Wales squad with the country just one win away from playing at their first World Cup for 64 years.
He said: “To get to a World Cup would be a massive achievement, and if I can help in any way, shape or form to do that it would be great.
“I haven’t sensed any nervousness around the camp. It’s genuine excitement and determination, getting our heads around what’s coming up.
“There’s not too much talk of the June 5 game as the focus is on Wednesday, but we all know what’s at stake.”