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Archived News from May 2003

28th May 2003 18:42

Evening Post, 21 May 2003

Mansfield defender Rhys Day flew to America with the Welsh squad today, determined to show manager Mark Hughes he has plenty to offer for the remainder of the Euro 2004 qualifying campaign. Day, who is captain of Wales Under-21s, has been given his chance after Sheffield United's Robert Page pulled out of the full squad to concentrate on the Division One play-off final. With Daniel Gabbidon playing for Cardiff in the Division Two showdown with QPR, Day has the chance to be the first Stags player in 23 years to represent one of the home countries, in the friendly against the USA in San Jose, California. The last was John McClelland, who played three times for Northern Ireland while at Field Mill. The squad flew from Heathrow today in order to acclimatise for the match that will take place in the early hours of Tuesday morning, our time. With Fulham's Andy Melville and Reading's Adie Williams also in the squad, Day is not assured of a starting place but is hopeful of being involved. He said: "I'm sure I will be able to get a place on the bench. "Plenty of players have pulled out of the squad but it is nice to know that I am in the picture and the manager obviously thinks I can play international football, otherwise he wouldn't have picked me. "I am going for the experience of being involved in the full squad but to get a cap would be absolutely brilliant." Day missed the last four games of the Stags' season after breaking his jaw in the 5-2 defeat at Bristol City last month but he believes he will be able to play if called into action after sitting out the four weeks recommended by doctors. Although he was on standby, his selection did come as a surprise. "My mum saw the news on teletext and rang me immediately. My phone was bleeping as well because my dad, who was at work, had found out as well," he said. "That was the first I knew about it. I knew I was on standby and there was always a chance that I would be involved. I am delighted to be going. "Four or five years ago, everyone said that you were able to buy a Welsh cap in a market but that is not true any more." Either way, it is a trip into the unknown for the 21-year-old central defender who has not been on a long-haul flight before. Now Day wants to secure a regular place in the squad, with the team well-placed to qualify for Euro 2004. He said: "I haven't even been out of Europe before so it is going to be a whole new experience. "It is a great opportunity for me to play against some top-quality opposition and it will give me a good chance to see how someone like Mark Hughes and some of the top players work in training." Meanwhile, Day's former central-defensive partner, Matthew Gadsby, has signed a one-year deal with Division Three rivals Kidderminster Harriers.


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