Joe Ledley determined to win back place in Wales side
Joe Ledley is determined to find a new club this summer and help Wales reach the 2020 European Championship finals.
Ledley has been without a club since leaving Derby in the final hours of the January transfer window.
But the 32-year-old midfielder insists he still has plenty to offer both at club and international level.
“I decided to leave Derby in January because I knew I wasn’t going to play there,” said Ledley, who has been training on his own and is now free of the hip injury which restricted him in the early part of the campaign.
“I was hoping to find a new club then, but it’s come to the stage where it’s difficult with clubs fighting for promotion and against relegation.
“I think I’ll be in a better position in the summer because clubs will know where they are for next season.
“I’m confident in my ability to play at a high level, I proved that at Derby last season as we only lost a few games after I went there.
“I had this situation before when I left Crystal Palace and it took me four to five months to sign for Derby. My fitness was never a worry, it’s about getting the opportunity to play football again.”
Ledley has played nearly 550 games in a 15-year club career which started at hometown club Cardiff and has also taken in Celtic, Palace and Derby.
He has also won 77 caps for Wales, placing him seventh on the all-time list, but his last appearance was 11 months ago in a 0-0 friendly draw with Mexico in Los Angeles.
Since then, manager Ryan Giggs has turned increasingly to youth as a new and exciting Wales team has started to take shape.
“I definitely want to play for Wales again,” said Ledley, a key part of the side which reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016 in France.
“I’ll never retire from Wales until actually I officially retire from football – and the aim is to get to the Euros in 2020.
“I haven’t spoken to him (Giggs) about my situation, but I can’t expect to be picked when I haven’t got a team.
“So it’s down to me to get a club and start playing again. If I do that I’ll hopefully be back in the squad.
“We’ve had a great start to the campaign with the win over Slovakia, and the youth and experience we’ve got is a good mixture to have.
“We’ve got some quality players coming through. But I’m sure the manager knows what us older boys bring to the table, not just on the pitch but off it as well.”
Ledley’s great friend and former Palace team-mate Wayne Hennessey is among the experienced Wales players that Giggs has at his disposal.
But the Palace goalkeeper has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons recently after being accused of making a racist gesture during a club meal.
The Football Association said a breach of the disciplinary rules had been “found not proven”, but Hennessey provoked widespread disbelief after telling an independent regulatory commission that he did not know what a Nazi salute was.
“We all know that Wayne wouldn’t do anything like that,” Ledley told Press Association Sport at a McDonald’s Fun Football programme event in Cardiff.
“We always speak and, the way he is, I’m sure this won’t affect the way he plays.
“He’ll have to shrug that off and concentrate on playing football.
“He’s a great guy, we all appreciate what he does for Wales on and off the pitch, and I’m sure he’ll be ready for our games in the summer.”
::Joe Ledley was speaking at a McDonald’s Fun Football Centre. The Fun Football programme is designed to introduce children to football and you can register for a session at www.mcdonalds.co.uk/funfootball
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