Youth is no bar to inspiring Welsh win, says captain Ledley

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The Independent Football

Joe Ledley finds himself in the almost surreal position of captaining Wales at just 22 and offering to "look after" younger players. He will wear the Wales armband for the first time in a competitive international today aware he is in charge of young players even more fresh-faced than he is.

Ledley will win his 29th cap in the World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan, a total that shows how much John Toshack has relied on youth during his five years as manager. But Ledley is taking it all in his stride.

He said: "We are missing a lot of players for this one, and I find myself now captaining a side with young players who are less experienced than me and are looking for leadership.

"I suppose I will be expected to look after them, but I'm sure I can handle it. I certainly feel honoured to be captaining my country at my age, and skipper of these players who I have grown up with. It is something you dream about and I just hope I can do a good job."

Ledley has gone from looking up to Ryan Giggs to being the leader of the youngest ever Wales side. He said: "I am still young but I am more experienced than many of the players in the squad. I'll be trying to look after them.

"We are missing key players with Premier League clubs, but these youngsters are good enough to get a victory here. This will be a hard game, Azerbaijan were difficult opponents in Cardiff and they will be tougher at home in this heat and with our fitness levels. But it will give the younger players experience and if they can learn in this sort of match they will have a great future ahead of them."

He added: "Aaron Ramsey will be important in this one. I played alongside him at Cardiff before he moved to Arsenal, and if he keeps going like he is he will be very important for Wales in the future. This may be our last game of a long season, but nobody has switched off ... we want to end our season on a high note."