TOM’S BRAD ALL OVER AT WALES CALL

The Football League Paper - - FA CUP FIRST ROUND - By Alex Dicken

TOM BRAD­SHAW has tar­geted a place in Chris Cole­man’s Euro 2016 line-up af­ter be­ing called up to the Wales se­nior squad for the first time on Wed­nes­day.

The Wal­sall striker is in line to make his de­but against World Cup semi-fi­nal­ists Hol­land next week af­ter an im­pres­sive start to the sea­son which has seen him notch nine goals for the League One lead­ers.

Brad­shaw was called into the squad as Gareth Bale’s re­place­ment af­ter the tal­is­manic for­ward was with­drawn by Real Madrid, and the former Shrews­bury man knows he has big boots to fill.

“I think I could earn a liv­ing in­side Gareth Bale’s shoes, they are that big!” joked the 23-year-old. “I’ll be go­ing there to en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence and if I get a chance, I’ll do my very best to take it.”

Brad­shaw has been on standby for the se­nior squad for the past year and ex­plained his feel­ings in the af­ter­math of be­ing told he would join up with Cole­man’s his­tory mak­ers.

“My ini­tial re­ac­tion was one of shock, I have been on standby quite a few times so to be in­volved in the ac­tual squad was a feel­ing that I’ll take to the grave,” he said.

“I got the ini­tial call off the gaffer here (Dean Smith). He called me at about nine o’clock to tell me that I was in the squad. Ob­vi­ously, af­ter that I called all my fam­ily but it was kept un­der wraps un­til the of­fi­cial re­lease at 12.

“Once 12 o’clock came my phone was go­ing off the chain!”

And Brad­shaw is hop­ing for an­other mo­men­tous phone call next sum­mer to no­tify him of his in­clu­sion in Wales’ 23-man party head­ing for France.

But the level-headed front­man knows he will have to con­tinue the tremen­dous form of the past 18 months, which has seen him score 29 times in 56 ap­pear­ances for the Sad­dlers, if he is to join the likes of Bale and Aaron Ram­sey in tak­ing on Europe’s elite next June.

“I’ve got to keep do­ing what I’m do­ing, keep striv­ing to im­prove and just give every­thing I can,” he added. “If I can get on the plane then that will ob­vi­ously be a very, very good day for me.”

Brad­shaw has rep­re­sented the Dragons at U19 and U21 level and will be able to catch up with some old friends when he joins up with the se­nior team next week.

“I know quite a few peo­ple through the un­der-21s.,” he said.

“I was room­mates with Jonny Wil­liams in Mon­tene­gro, also Danny Ward and Emyr Hughes, who was my room­mate in Ar­me­nia, so I’ll know quite a few of the lads be­fore I get there and it will be good to catch up with a few.”

Brad­shaw’s friends and fam­ily have trot­ted around the globe to watch the Shrews­bury-born for­ward rep­re­sent his coun­try at youth level, and he will again be able to count on their sup­port in Cardiff next week.

“There’s go­ing to be quite a few there but that’s not un­usual!” said Brad­shaw, who hit the magic 20goal mark for Wal­sall last sea­son. “The ma­jor­ity of them come week in week out.

“A lot of my friends are from Wales and they were all go­ing to the game be­fore they even knew that I was in the squad so hope­fully they will en­joy it a lit­tle bit more now.”

But Brad­shaw isn’t the only Wal­sall player whose name is cur­rently on the lips of ev­ery Welsh foot­ball fan. His team­mate Ja­son Demetriou scored the goal that se­cured Wales’ qual­i­fi­ca­tion for their first ma­jor tour­na­ment since 1958.

Demetriou’s win­ning goal against Is­rael en­sured Wales pro­gressed to the Eu­ros de­spite los­ing to Bos­nia and Herze­gov­ina last month, an achieve­ment that Brad­shaw knows will be hard to em­u­late.

He added: “He did bril­liantly when he went away with Cyprus and ob­vi­ously his goal took Wales to the Eu­ros so that will al­ways be re­mem­bered, it will take some go­ing to beat that!”

DE­SERVED: Striker Tom Brad­shaw has fi­nally got his Wales call-up af­ter star­ring for Wal­sall

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