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Wembley Calling for Five Welsh Players as Season Comes to the Boil

By Graham Thomas

Four Welsh players are heading to Wembley and there could be a fifth by around 10pm on Friday night.

Leeds United’s quartet of Ethan Ampadu, Joe Rodon, Dan James and Connor Roberts are all into the Championship play-off final after their 4-0 demolition of Norwich City.

“Towards the end of the season, there was a lot of talk about how we were playing; how we weren’t on the front foot, how we weren’t aggressive, how we weren’t clinical,” said Ampadu.

“But we always had our belief that, on our day, when we are firing, we can be hard for anyone to play against.

“Whoever we play against in the final, it’s going to be a very hard game. It’s a final to get to the Premier League and we’re happy that we’re there. To put a performance in like this, I think we can take momentum and confidence into it.”

It was an impressive display of power and ruthlessness from Leeds and it’s hardly a surprise that it’s altered the odds on which club is most likely to earn the third  and final  promotion place to the Premier League.

DragonBet now have Leeds as 8/11 favourites to go up, with Southampton slipping to 13/8 and West Bromthe outsiders at 7/1.

Saints and the Baggies meet on Friday night at 8.00pm for the right to face Leeds, with their first leg having ended goalless.

Wales midfielder David Brooks – currently on loan at Southampton from Bournemouth – will be hoping to start the second leg, after only getting a 20-minute cameo from the substitutes’ bench in the first game.

Brooks, who moved in January, has two goals and five assists from 11 starts under Russell Martin, but was an unused substitute in their last game of the regular season. 

There is no doubt the 26-year-old could be a game-changer for Saints, though, especially for a side that have scored only three goals in their last five matches.

Southampton are 8/11 favourites to win, with West Brom at 15/4 and the draw after 90 minutes priced at 14/5.

On Saturday, another Welsh player will be running at out at Wembley, having already secured his place in the League One Play-off Final.

Aaron Collins will be part of the Bolton Wanderers line-up as they take on Oxford United for a place in next season’s Championship.

The former Wales U19 striker, who hails from Newport, has scored 14 goals for Bolton this season and his form has sparked talks of a Wales call-up for summer friendlies against Gibraltar and Slovakia.

Bolton finished third in the regular season and although they couldn’t match the pace set by Portsmouth and Derby – who went up automatically – they were 10 points clear of fifth-placed Oxford.

That background makes Bolton 17/20 favourites to win the final, with Oxford priced 11/4 and the draw at 5/2.

In the Women’s Super League, Wales star Sophie Ingle could be on for her fifth title and a seventh for departing manager Emma Hayes at Chelsea.

Ingle is part of a Blues squad who hold a two-goal cushion in goal difference and have also scored six more goals, meaning Manchester City need a three-goal swing on the final day if they do not better Chelsea’s result.

But City have the easier fixture as they travel to Aston Villa, while Chelsea take on a Manchester United side fresh from celebrating their first-ever major trophy in the women’s game in the FA Cup final.

Manchester City are huge 1/11 favourites to win at Villa, with the home side at 16/1.

Chelsea are 8/15 to win at United, with the Cup winners at 15/4.

On Sunday, the final day of the Premier League will focus most of the attention towards the top where Manchester City hold the edge over Arsenal in the race for the title.

City are massive 1/16 favourites to win their fourth crown in a row, but if you think the Gunners can still overhaul them, then they can be backed at 17/2.

Pep Guardiola’s team are 1/11 to beat West Ham at home in their final fixture, with the Hammers at 18/1 and the draw, 9/1.

Arsenal are 1/6 to beat Everton, who are at 14/1, with the draw, 6/1.

You can also get odds on top half Premier League finishes involving the four clubs who still hold that fate in the balance – Brighton at  1/3, Crystal  Palace at 4/1, Bournemouth at 13/2, and Wolves at 66/1.

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