Joe Ledley expresses his aspirations of representing Wales again

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Lewis Sharpe March 20, 2021

Author: Lewis Sharpe

Published: Y Clwb Pel-Droed

Newport County announced the shock signing of Welsh international Joe Ledley on Thursday morning.

The midfielder will ply his trade at Rodney Parade until the end of this season, with the hope of securing promotion into League One.

Ledley was recently training with Bristol Rovers, after a brief spell with Newcastle Jets in Australia last year.

Speaking in his first press conference for the Exiles, Ledley claimed, ‘’I’m delighted. Obviously, I moved back last year to Cardiff, so to be on my doorstep and to have the opportunity to play for Newport is a great honour. My family are very proud and it’s nice to be back in Wales.’’

‘’I was at Bristol [Rovers] for a few weeks doing training there. For some reason, that didn’t work out, but I had a few others offers and when Newport came in, that’s where I wanted to be. It’s perfect location for me, I know the manager, I know the players well and the chairman. It’s to repay them as well for what they did for me last year with training and the opportunity to come in and keep fit, so I’m delighted to be here.’’

The 34-year-old will offer a winning mentality to the side who are five points off top-spot with 11 games to go.

After leaving Crystal Palace, where he played from 2014 until 2017, Ledley has enjoyed stints in the Championship with Derby County and Charlton Athletic. He signed a month-long contract with the latter in December 2019.

‘’I know I’ve got the experience, and a lot of players will know that’’, Ledley explained.

‘’It’s that winning mentality that I’ve learned as well. When I went to Celtic, it’s all about winning and I thrive winning. There’s nothing better than walking off that pitch with three points.’’

‘’I’ve always had hunger, I’ve always gone out on the pitch and been successful at nearly every club I’ve been to, so that’ll never change.’’

‘’I’ve still got the hunger; I still want to be winning games and that will never change.’’

‘’The boys who have been here this season have been unbelievable. They’re the ones who deserve all the credit. We’re in a great position at the moment, and there’s 11 games left, I think. We need to try and win as many as we can and get as many points as we can.

‘’There’s going to be a few difficult games, we’ve got a few around us. If we continue the form that they’ve done already this season, then hopefully we can fight for promotion.’’

‘’If we get promoted, I’ll bring that dance back out,’’ he claimed with a smile on his face.

Newport are awaiting news on Ledley’s international clearance due to his spell in Australia with Newcastle Jets. Until it goes through, he will be unavailable for selection.

‘’Last week, I was running up cliff tops with my mates doing 13.5 miles last Saturday, now I’m contention of playing a professional game. I’ve always kept myself fit; I’ve always ticked over.’’

‘’Fitness wise, I don’t think it’ll be an issue, it’s more getting around bodies and getting used to the ball.’’

‘’I’ve always had hunger, I’ve always gone out on the pitch and been successful at nearly every club I’ve been to, so that’ll never change.’’

‘’I’ve still got the hunger; I still want to be winning games and that will never change.’’

Ledley will hope he can play alongside his midfield compatriot Josh Sheehan.

‘’Josh [Sheehan] has been a great player. I admired him when I first came here and saw him in training, and it’s great to see him getting his Welsh cap. He’s a fantastic player and hopefully, whoever plays in there with him, can help him out.‘’

Newport boss Mike Flynn explained Ledley may feature in a new position, central defence.

‘’I’ve never played there before,’’ he claimed.

‘’I’ve played a lot of positions in my career. It would be new to me, but like I said, whatever I can do to help the team then that’s fine by me. It’s one of those positions where, when you get older, you might drop into and hopefully make it easy. It’ll be interesting to see, obviously I’d need to work on it a bit and get myself into training.’’

With 77 caps for his country thus far, Ledley hasn’t featured for his national team since a goalless draw with Mexico May 2018.

‘’I’m not retired from Wales. I think it’s a bit early, I need to play a few games, but if they need me, I’m here. I loved playing for my country, it’s the greatest honour ever. We’ll see what happens.‘’

‘’Hopefully I get the opportunity to put the Welsh top on again, but if not, I’m delighted with what I’ve done for my nation.’’

‘’It’s great to see Kingy [Tom King] and Josh [Sheehan] get the call-up. It doesn’t matter where you’re playing at the moment, if you’re good enough, the manager will pick you.’’

‘’ It’s going to be a very difficult ask to be pushing on the door of the senior team, but I’m not ruling anything out, and we’ll see what happens. I’m sure they’ve already got their selection made in their heads.’’

After recovering from a fractured leg sustained only a month before the start of the tournament, Ledley was a key part of Wales’ Euro 2016 campaign which saw them reach the semi-final.

It’s reported that Ledley also played a huge part off the pitch, with his character and personality benefitting other members of the squad.

‘’I’m close friends with those two [Wayne Hennessey and Gareth Bale],’’ he explained.

‘’I keep in touch with them on a regular basis and we enjoyed our time. The three of us were like glue; always together, always messing around, always laughing. That’s what you need in teams. It’s important to have that sort of character and that team bonding and togetherness goes a long way. That’s what we try to bring to the table.’’

‘’It’s one of those where, if not [selected for Wales again], I wish them the best of luck. I’ll always support my nation, and I look forward to watching them in the Euros.’’