Mark Jones: Cymru C enjoy being underdogs against England C

For Mark ‘Jonah’ Jones, this will be his fifth time managing Cymru C, but his enthusiasm and excitement doesn’t wane.

Just by speaking to him, you instantly understand what this game means to him. He’s suffered a glorious victory and frustrating defeat in these fixtures, and now on Tuesday night, he will look to triumph once more, this time in Llanelli.

Jones has selected a youthful squad to take on England, and he says it’s something he’s spoken to a lot of players about.

“I think we’ve brought a little more youth into this squad than previous ones. That might be down to a reason like the Will Evans scenario we had. 

“We’ve had some wonderful players who were 30+ and have played for us in the past, but some of them I’ve spoken to have said to give the younger players a chance because it can change their career. That’s a fantastic attitude to have and we’ve been lucky to have that around these squads. This is a great group of players.”

And why not have a core of young talent? Names like Will Evans and Adam Roscrow put in tremendous performances against England and are now playing in the English Football League. Jonah says this is part of the reason behind choosing a young team, and he’s looking forward to seeing which one of those talents stand out.

“Will Evans’ name must have come up about a thousand times so far this week! But we had four or five players before him, and that opportunity is there for these players. The chance is there for these boys to take. 

“There’s five or six of them who are around that 24-25 age, and some of them are even younger. If they have a good game, it can change their career. That’s one of the main bonuses of this international fixture.”

Questions then, naturally, turn to, who could be the next Will Evans in this Wales squad?

It could be Llanelli Town striker Ethan Cann. Cann is the only second tier representative in this Cymru C squad, and Jones believes he is a player who can go a very long way in his career.

“Ethan has a lot of potential. He played against a very good Penybont side in the cup and scored two goals, and they were really great goals too. I’ve watched him for a couple of seasons now and I think, potentially, he’s got a great future ahead of him. He’s 21 and he can run his socks off.

“He’s doing a fantastic job for Llanelli. Llanelli are a big football club and I hope he can carry on scoring goals for them. I know how much he loves playing for the club, and really good luck to him and them in trying to get promotion, and I hope he carries on his good form.”

Cann and the rest of his teammates will be coming up against a strong England side on Tuesday, as they aim to make amends for their narrow 1-0 defeat in Altrincham last year. 

The English team selected by Paul Fairclough boasts a fair number of professional players, but for Jones, he says it makes the whole challenge for his side even more tantalising.

“Every year, they’re supposedly from a higher standard. They’re from the National League, they’re bringing around 16 professionals, we have none in our team. We’re going to have to be on the top of our game to get a result, but the challenge is a great one, and that’s why we enjoy these games so much.

“It almost becomes like a glamour cup tie this. In a way, England are like your Liverpool or Manchester United, and they rank us as like a Cardiff City or Swansea City; being that tier below them. We’ve just got to stand up and get ourselves a result.”

The stage is set and Stebonheath Park is ready to host, what is sure to be, an incredible spectacle. Jonah’s final point was to send a message to the supporters, who are oh so important in these games.

“My message to the fans is the same as always. We appreciate the support every time we play. Even at this level, if we can get almost 1000 people there at Stebonheath Park, they will lift these boys tremendously. Every supporter is very important to us.”

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