Ingle ready to lead Wales

"I won't let it get to me," said Sophie Ingle after the Bristol Academy WFC defender was appointed to replace Jess Fishlock as Wales captain for 2017 qualifying.

Jayne Ludlow (centre) with her new captain Sophie Ingle (left) and Natasha Harding
Jayne Ludlow (centre) with her new captain Sophie Ingle (left) and Natasha Harding ©UEFA.com

Having helped Bristol Academy WFC to the UEFA Women's Champions League quarter-finals, defender Sophie Ingle has been appointed to captain Wales in UEFA Women's EURO 2017 qualifying.

Ingle's status was announced by new coach Jayne Ludlow as she named her squad for a tournament in Croatia next month. The 23-year-old takes over from former Bristol club-mate Jessica Fishlock, whose 1. FFC Frankfurt side meet Bristol in the UEFA Women's Champions League last eight in late March.

"It's an honour to play for my country, let alone captain my country, so it will be good to lead the girls out in my first game as captain next month," Ingle, who operates at left-back or in defensive midfield for Bristol, told UEFA.com. "But things will be the same for me, it's not going to change who I am or how I play. I won't let it get to me or affect me on the pitch. I am there to do my job, so that's a good thing."

Ludlow has opted to omit midfielder Fishlock – on loan at Frankfurt from Seattle Reign FC – from the squad for Croatia. "I've got an opportunity to play players that I've not seen much of, that's my thought process for this tournament," said Ludlow. "I know what Jess can give. The competition is key for me ahead of the qualifying games that begin in September. I'm very open to giving people chances to step up to international level to show if they can compete, irrelevant of which club they come from or where they're based right now."

Fishlock, who has played 82 times for Wales, replaced the retiring Ludlow as skipper in 2012. "She was disappointed," added Ludlow, while emphasising that Fishlock still has a future with the national side. "Captaining your country is a huge privilege and an honour. We had a long conversation the last time we were together about my reasoning behind it. She was very mature and took those reasons on board and reacted very positively."

In fact, Fishlock turned to social media to congratulate her successor on her installation. "Sophie is a wonderful player and a first-class person who will lead Wales with distinction. I am and will continue to be available for Jayne and the squad moving forward."

Ingle, who made her Wales debut in 2009 and played every minute of all ten 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifiers, believes the responsibility of leading the team is a shared one. "Just because I'm captain it doesn't mean I'm the only leader," she explained. "There's a lot of other girls that can lead as well, it's not just about one person, but the team." Meanwhile, striker Natasha Harding was confirmed as the new vice-captain.

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