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Ramsey Back In Blue: Dragon Round Up

The dream for Cardiff City fans of seeing Aaron Ramsey back in blue maybe moved a little closer over the weekend.

It’s not a bet you’d put your house on just yet, but at least Bluebirds new manager Erol Bulut sounded upbeat about the possibility after his first match in charge on Saturday.

The Turkish coach was asked about the Wales captain after Cardiff’s 2-0 win over Penybont in a pre-season friendly and says there is a space in his diary for a meeting with the club’s former midfielder.

Ramsey, now 32, has spent the last few weeks mulling over his options – which include remaining in France with Nice, moving elsewhere in Europe, signing for another Championship, or perhaps, Premier League club, or going back to where it all began in the Welsh capital.

Bulut revealed he has only previously met Ramsey in person once – at the Wales v Armenia game – but hopes to share further developments on transfers this week.

“Maybe I’m going to meet him following this. We will see, we never know,” he said.

“I will tell you more next week if we can get to sign some players, so then you will know.”

Goals either side of half-time from Mark McGuinness and Ollie Tanner wrapped up a comfortable win as Penybont were given a thorough examination of their capabilities, ahead of their UEFA Conference League debut in 11 days’ time.

“I’m satisfied that the team are doing well. They are training hard, but only for ten days, so we have to be better for the following games,” said Bulut.

“It was good that I could see the young players and what they have, especially in the second-half. They did quite well, so I could see today that they want it.”

Welsh champions The New Saints visit Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday as part of a pre-season programme that will see the Bluebirds take in games against Braga and FC Porto as they continue their preparations in Portugal.

While Cardiff fans spent the weekend wondering if they could bring in a headturner, Swansea City supporters are anxiously fearing their own star turn could be on his way.

New manager Michael Duff is getting to know his players but knows he has a struggle to hold on to some who will seek to leave before the new season starts.

That group is likely to include the club’s Dutch striker Joel Piroe, who has scored over 20 goals in both of his two seasons so far in South Wales.

Swansea’s Championship rivals Leicester City and Southampton are known to be interested in Piroe and Duff said: “I had some good conversations with Joel at our training camp in Spain last week and he was asking about detail in what I want from him.

“Until anything changes we will keep on having those conversations. If he goes, he goes, and if he doesn’t, he stays – it is not personal, it’s football.

“I understand he’s the big name at the club and only has a year left on his contract. There will be plans in place in terms of the way we play if he stays, and plans for if he goes.”

Penybont earned praise in finishing a hard-earned second at the weekend and so did Welsh-owned and Welsh-trained horse, Golden Rules.

The six-year-old was a 9-2 favourite to win the Northumberland Plate on Saturday, but was beaten by half a length by Calling The Wind.

Trained in Monmouthshire by Deborah Faulkener and owned by Gareth Cheshire, Golden Rules was just edged out.

“The first thing Oisin [Murphy, jockey] said when he got off the horse was he was unlucky in running,” said Faulkner’s son and assistant trainer Tom.

“A horse has come alongside him and he’s had to check him twice. Take nothing away from the winner – it’s a 19-runner handicap and you need luck.”

The weekend rugby movements included one player who arrived from New Zealand and could now soon find himself thrust into Wales’ World Cup preparations.

Taine Plumtree – a 23-year-old back row forward who was born in Swansea when his father John was the club’s head coach – has signed to play for the Scarlets next season.

But Wales coach Warren Gatland is a known admirer of Plumtree junior and it’s understood he is poised to join the squad for their two-week training camp in Switzerland.

The squad were due to leave for the Swiss mountains on Monday afternoon and the former forward with the Auckland-based Blues, is expected to be on board.

He had been playing Super Rugby for the Blues and for Wellington in the Mitre Cup. He played against Wales for New Zealand at the 2019 World Rugby U20 Championships, ending up on the losing side in Argentina.

The Welsh side that day contained three of his new Scarlets teammates, Morgan Jones, Kemsley Mathias, Ryan Conbeer and Sam Costelow.

“Taine is an athletic, versatile forward who is able to play across the back row. We have been impressed by what we have seen of him with Wellington and when he has featured for the Blues in Super Rugby,” said Scarlets head coach, Dwayne Peel.

“He is a player of huge potential, and we are excited for him to join the young generation of Scarlets who are coming through the ranks here.”

Wales hockey coach Danny Newcombe voiced his frustration as his senior men’s team lost a three-match series, 2-1, away to Ireland.

Wales lost the final game 3-0 on Sunday in County Down, having won the opening match, 2-0, but lost the initiative with a 5-2 defeat on Saturday.

The matches were part of Wales’ preparations for the EuroHockey Championship later this month.

Newcombe said: “It was a pretty frustrating result again and mainly due to the pretty positive performance from the boys today. We played well but simply didn’t execute and made some naive decisions which cost us.

Wales co-captain Luke Hawker said: “I think the boys will quite naturally be disappointed with today’s result.

“I don’t think the scoreline reflects the performance we put in. But, there were certainly some errors and areas to sharpen up on as we move into our next challenge.”

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