In becoming the second youngest player to ever start a senior international for Wales — missing out on Gareth Bale’s record by about 10 days — 17-year-old Chelsea prospect Ethan Ampadu impressed most onlookers. Jody Morris may be a slightly biased source as coach of the Chelsea U18s, but his opinion was largely representative of the overall verdict of the youngster’s performance on Tuesday in the friendly against World Cup-bound Panama.
Away from England,Ethan Ampadu man of the match for Wales and Andreas Christensen beating rep Ireland 5-1 and going to the World Cup..good night for the academy— Jody Morris (@morriskid) November 14, 2017
Of course it was just a meaningless friendly for a rather experimental Wales side — four players made their debuts in addition to Ampadu (17), Woodburn (18), and Brooks (20) all starting — against a largely unmotivated opposition (who really aren’t that great even when motivated), but just the fact that Ampadu didn’t look out of place and, as we’ve seen for Chelsea, was never shying away from the ball or contact, are positive signs.
The highlights at the top, as usual, only tell half the story, if that, since as a defensive midfielder, Ampadu’s main role is to read the game and position himself accordingly without the ball, but like his unmissable hairdo, those long passes sure catch the eye.
With two starts in the League Cup and three bench appearances in the Premier League under his belt already, the latest of which came at the expense of David Luiz, even, Ampadu is off to as good of a start as any Chelsea prospect in recent years. That’s no guarantee of any future returns, but it’s reason to be reasonably hopeful, especially as his name is often brought up by Conte.