WALES CALL IS IN MAX’S SIGHTS

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Joshua Richards

PA­TIENT Chris Maxwell had to wait al­most two years be­fore mak­ing his Fleet­wood Town de­but, but – hav­ing more than made up for lost time last term – he now har­bours hopes of break­ing into a Wales squad on the brink of mak­ing history.

Maxwell, once farmed out on loan to Wrex­ham and Cam­bridge United, is now re­garded so highly at High­bury that man­ager Graham Alexan­der said he had all the qual­ity re­quired to play for Wales fol­low­ing his penalty save that res­cued a point in last week­end’s draw with Rochdale.

The 25-year-old – who also qual­i­fies to play for Eng­land and Scot­land through his fam­ily her­itage – has rep­re­sented Wales from U17 through to U23 level.

Un­capped

He has been on Chris Coleman’s radar, but nar­rowly missed out on mak­ing the squads for the last three Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship qual­i­fiers, with un­capped duo Owain Fon Wil­liams and Danny Ward pre­ferred along­side reg­u­lar No.1 Wayne Hen­nessey.

But a chance to be part of a Wales squad set to com­pete at a ma­jor in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ment for the first time in 58 years is a car­rot cur­rently dan­gling.

And Maxwell wants to be part of it. “I’ve played for ev­ery youth team in the Wales set-up, so I would like to think I have the qual­ity to play for the se­niors,” said the for­mer Wrex­ham stop­per.

“The team is do­ing re­ally well, they have a fan­tas­tic chance to qual­ify for the fi­nals and of course it would be a dream to be in­volved.

“But my job is to play well for Fleet­wood, to per­form here and help us pick up points and then I’ll see what chances might come along.

“My mum’s side of the fam­ily are all from Wales and I was born there, so it was nat­u­ral for me to play for Wales rather than Eng­land or Scot­land. “Ryan Giggs and Neville Southall were my he­roes when I was grow­ing up.

“But I’m not anti-Eng­land. I sup­port them at World Cups and I’m a Manch­ester United fan, so I guess I’m a proud Brit as well as a proud Welsh­man.”

The Maxwell ap­pre­ci­a­tion club seem­ingly ex­tends through­out Fleet­wood.

In May he was named player of the sea­son by both his sup­port­ers and his peers, while he was also voted com­mu­nity player of the sea­son for his work out­side of High­bury.

This term he has been named the club’s ed­u­ca­tion am­bas­sador, vis­it­ing schools to talk to young­sters in the sea­side town and, while he’s there, con­vince a few to swap tan­ger­ine for red.

“It’s im­por­tant to be a good role model, es­pe­cially in Fleet­wood, which is very small. It feels like a bot­tle­neck, ev­ery­one knows ev­ery­one,” he said.

Im­por­tant

“So it’s im­por­tant that we do good things. My­self and a lot of the play­ers have vis­ited schools and that might even help build the fan-base.

“Black­pool are the mas­sive team here, but Fleet­wood are slowly catch­ing them.

“We want to make sure kids choose the right paths when it comes to ed­u­ca­tion.

“We all know kids can be easily in­flu­enced, so it’s down to us as role mod­els to try and in­flu­ence them in the right way.”

And that is also some­thing he has been do­ing on the pitch since be­ing re­called from his loan at Cam­bridge in Jan­uary 2014.

He adds: “I’m a firm be­liever that if you work hard and keep your head down then you will al­most cer­tainly do well.

“I had faith in what was be­ing said by the peo­ple around me – faith that what they were say­ing was true – so there was no rea­son to say I wanted to leave.

“I took on board what the man­ager and the goal­keep­ing coach wanted me to work on in train­ing.

“And the gaffer let me go out on loan a cou­ple of times to gain min­utes, so it has felt like I was work­ing to­wards this.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

EURO DREAM: Welsh-born Chris Maxwell is a favourite with the play­ers and fans at Fleet­wood for his saves, inset

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