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Ramsey Returns: The Dragon Round Up

Aaron Ramsey last played in the Premier League four years ago, but he believes he can now quickly make it back there with Cardiff City.

The Bluebirds are currently 49/1 with DragonBet to win the Championship title next season, odds that may start to fall substantially if the Wales captain can lead the club to a fast start to the new campaign.

Leicester City are favourites for the title at 4/1, with Leeds United at 7/1, alongside Southampton, who are now led by former Swansea City head coach Russell Martin.

The Swans themselves are 29/1, a much shorter price than their Welsh rivals, but new Cardiff recruit Ramsey reckons his chances of getting the club back to the top flight are more than realistic.

The former Nice star has joined Ike Ugbo, Dimitrios Goutas, Yakou Meite and Karlan Grant as new recruits and insisted: Obviously, I’m a Cardiff City fan, and watching them over the years since I’ve been away, we’ve had some low points but some big highs as well, being in the Premier League and representing Cardiff on the big stage.

“That’s a target of mine – to try and help my teammates and this club to get back to the top. I’ve said it many times in the past – I owe so much to Cardiff, to the fans, to everybody who has been at the club when I was here as a young boy coming through.

“For me now to come full circle, to be part of this team now, and hopefully achieve the goals we want, there’s no better feeling than that.”

Ramsey came through the ranks at Cardiff before spending 11 years at Arsenal prior to his move to Juventus in the summer of 2019.

Although his time in Turin didn’t quite go to plan, he still made 70 appearances and completed a set of domestic honours – winning the Serie A title, Italian Cup and Italian Super Cup.

He had a spell at Rangers before spending last season at French club Nice. He was tipped to go to Saudi Arabia this summer but has decided to return home instead.

“I want to come back while I still feel like I can perform and help this team. And now is the perfect time to do that. I’m very experienced,” added Ramsey.

“And I hope that I can help a lot of the young players coming through as well. So there’s a lot of things that I’m looking forward to and getting stuck into here.”

While Cardiff fans will watch their club’s pre-season trip to Portugal with interest – they take on Braga on Wednesday – Wrexham supporters are looking across the Atlantic where their club are preparing for a series of high profile pre-season games.

The National League champions face Chelsea on 19 July at Chapel Hill, North Carolina as part of the 2023 FC Series.

Three days later Major League Soccer side LA Galaxy will be their opponents at Dignity Health Sports Park in California.

Phil Parkinson’s men will be up against Manchester United at Snapdragon Stadium, San Diego on 25 July.

The tour concludes on 28 July against Philadelphia Union II, co-chairman Rob McElhenney’s home city.

There were some excellent performances from Welsh para athletes competing at the World Para Athletics Championships in Paris.

The pick was by Michael Jenkins, who won the men’s F38 shot put silver on his senior Great Britain debut.

Another Welsh thrower, Harrison Walsh, finished fifth in the men’s F64 discus, while rookie Funmi Oduwaiye finished fourth in the F64 shot put in her first tournament at this level.

In Jenkins’ event, the world record was broken six times during the competition – once briefly by Jenkins – before he finished with a European record to add to his medal.

The seven feet tall thrower from Pembrokeshire said: “It’s surreal and my heart is pounding. I’m sure it will be for the coming days – it’s incredible and I’m very proud.

“Going out there, I did have a lot of expectations – I wanted to push it, I wanted to smash my own best, and as a minimum I wanted to get the European record – that was my main goal going in.”

The weekend of success for Welsh able-bodied athletes also included a new Welsh record and one near miss that still delivered a gold medal.

Melissa Courtney-Bryant smashed the 20-year-old Welsh 1500m record with a stunning display at the Diamond League meeting in Chorzow.

The Welsh ace clocked 3:58.01 to take a huge 1.94secs off the mark set by Hayley Tullett in Paris in 2003.

Courtney-Bryant’s time was more than two seconds quicker than her previous best (4:00.45) set in Nancy, France, in June this year.

Jeremiah Azu stormed to victory in the European Under 23 Championships in Finland.

The 22-year-old triumphed in Espoo in 10.05secs – just 0.01 secs off the Welsh record he set in Manchester last weekend.

Azu became the first Brit in history to retain a Euro U23 title in any event having won in Estonia in 2021.

In rugby, Wales finished sixth at the World Rugby U20 Championship in South Africa after they lost their play-off for fifth place to Australia, 57-33.

But what is still to be decided is the future of their caretaker coach, Mark Jones, the former Wales and Scarlets wing.

Having picked up the head coaching reins when Bryon Hayward stepped down a month before the tournament, he helped to transform a team lost every game in the Six Nations into a side that picked up two wins and ended sixth overall in South Africa after losing their final match against Australia.

His three-month contract will end once he has completed his report on the tournament and he will be back on the job market.

“You’ll have to ask the powers that be what happens to me next. I’ve just been focusing on the final game and finishing as high as we possibly could,” said Jones.

“I’m in the profession of coaching, that’s my living. The fact I enjoy it makes it even more rewarding.

“I’ve got to put food on the table, so I’ll be looking for a new job as soon as this one finishes. I don’t know where that will be.

“I took on the job with Wales at short notice for three months. It excited me and I’ve loved doing it. It has been the people who have made it exciting for me.”

Gerwyn Price vowed to improve after he moved into the second round of the World Matchplay Darts by beating Stephen Bunting 10-3 in Blackpool.

After Bunting won the first two legs, Price hit back to level things up before sweeping to victory, claiming each of the last seven.

The Welshman, runner-up to Michael van Gerwen in last year’s competition, said: “I was 2-0 down, could have been 3-0 down – it was a slow start. I didn’t play brilliant, but I did what I had to do.

“I was up and down. It was just first-round jitters. Getting through the first round is always tough, but I’ll be better next round.”

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