NEIL TAYLOR spoke of his delight after being promoted to the senior Wales squad – and the left-back admitted that winning a first full cap would be an honour.
Wrexham left-back Taylor yesterday earned a shock first call-up to the 19-man squad after manager John Toshack suffered a sixth withdrawal for Sunday’s friendly against Croatia in Osijek.
Sheffield United striker Ched Evans has pulled out, joining Aaron Ramsey, James Collins, Danny Gabbidon, Gareth Bale, Simon Davies and Jack Collison on the sidelines.
Taylor, 21, is one of four latest call-ups who are uncapped and who started in Wales’ under 21 1-0 friendly defeat in Austria on Tuesday.
Having won 11 caps at under 21 level, Taylor could be just the second non-league player to represent Wales for 78 years, with Steve Evans, another Wrexham defender, the other after he was a second-half substitute in Wales’ 2-1 defeat in Russia in September 2008.
And while he hopes to feature at some stage, Taylor is just pleased to get the opportunity to travel with the party.
“I am looking forward to it,” he said. “It is a good chance for me to train with some really good players.
“Hopefully I show what I can do and prove myself to the manager in the training sessions.
“I think there are 19 players in the squad and it is going to be a great experience for me.
“It would be the icing on the cake if I was involved, that is what I am after, but I am not being greedy.
“If it happens then brilliant.”
Taylor, who has also represented Wales under 17s and 19s, played an hour of Tuesday’s defeat before being substituted by manager Brian Flynn.
Although he was told a first senior call could be a possibility, Taylor insists it was still a surprise.
“I sort of knew before the game I could be going,” said Taylor. “But I knew I had to do okay for the under 21s and I think I did all right.
“But I was still shocked when I was told I was in the full squad.
“I know a few have dropped out from the original squad but I never thought I would get the call-up so I am really delighted.
“I never thought it would come so soon in my career so I am pleased to get the opportunity, it should be a good trip for me.
“I am more than happy with the way the season has ended so hopefully it continues next season.”
Taylor, who has turned down a new contract offer at Wrexham, insists he will not be in awe of players such as Manchester City striker Craig Bellamy who has been named in the squad having missed his country’s last three games.
“I think I will be OK in that respect,” added Taylor. “Football is football and everyone is the same, I am not bothered about all that. I am just looking forward to doing my best on the training pitch.”
Taylor’s club manager, Dean Saunders, has hit out suggestions Sunday’s game against Croatia, one of two friendlies before the start of the 2012 European Championship qualifiers next season, is a pointless exercise.
Saunders, who scored 22 goals in 75 appearances for Wales between 1986 and 2001, has linked up with the squad to fulfil his role as assistant to manager John Toshack and he insists it is a privilege to represent your country in any international match.
“All internationals are big games,” said Saunders. “You can’t say friendlies are an inconvenience, international games are the biggest games you will ever play in.
“Playing for your country is a massive honour.”
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