'Getting to the World Cup would be massive' - Town star Burns on Wales call
- Credit: FAW
Wes Burns is excited by the opportunity to represent his country for the first time and maybe, just maybe, make it to the World Cup later this year.
The Ipswich Town wide-man was a late call-up for Robert Page’s Wales squad ahead of a busy summer schedule, having previously been part of the pre-Euro 2016 training camp before ultimately missing out on the tournament.
Wales play four Nations League games in June but, in between them, is a clash against either Scotland or Ukraine in Cardiff to decide which team goes to the World Cup in Qatar in November.
Town’s so-far uncapped 27-year-old would love nothing more than to make his international bow this summer and will do all he can to help his country achieve their goal.
“It was 2016, the last time I was here, but I didn’t get a chance to win a cap,” Burns said, speaking from Wales’ training camp in Portugal.
“Hopefully with the games we have in a short space of time while I’m here, I can go and get that cap now.
“It would be one of the proudest moments of my career. I’m a fully Welsh lad, all of my family are from Wales and have lived there my whole life. It would be such a proud moment to put on that shirt and play for my country.
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Discussing potential World Cup qualification, Burns continued: “That’s the aim for this camp
“Poland is the first game and the first priority but the big game against either Ukraine or Scotland is massive for us as a squad and as a country.
“Getting to the World Cup would be a massive achievement and if I can help in that at all then great.
“I haven’t sensed any nerves, it’s genuine excitement and determination from the squad to really get our heads around what’s coming up.
“There hasn’t been too much talk of the June 5 game (against Scotland or Wales) and it’s a one game at a time mentality which is handy. We all know what’s at stake, with maybe getting to the World Cup.
“We’re excited to achieve what we know we can achieve as a squad.”
Burns’ international call comes at the end of a highly successful debut season at Ipswich, which saw the Welshman win the club’s player of the season award, finish as top scorer, earn a place in the League One team of the season and then sign a new deal.
The call-up was something of a surprise, though, with the Town man added to the squad late on.
"It was very strange because I got a late call on Sunday from Robert (Page, manager) and he said 'you need to get yourself to Cardiff because we fly tomorrow and I want you to be a part of it'," he said.
"I was rushing around the house looking for boots and shinpads. I was buzzing to get the call, though, and with the amount of games we have coming up in a short period of time, hopefully this is a good chance for me to go and earn my first cap for the senior side.
"It's been a crazy few days but I have loved the camp so far. We've had two tough days of training in the heat but that's what we want. There are quality players here so the standard has been very good, and we're all looking forward to the fixtures coming up."
It remains to be seen what role manager Robert Page sees Burns playing on the international stage, with the Ipswich player settling into the right wing-back position under club boss Kieran McKenna.
“It’s a bit of a weird one because they’ve probably created my own little role for me at Ipswich, which is why I’ve maybe done so well,” Burns said.
“It’s a half-and-half thing, like a wing-back, but I don’t do too much defending so it kind of allows me to go forward, get in the box and score goals.
“I don’t know what I’d class myself as these days because I’ve played lots of different roles. Right-wing, right forward, striker, right-back and a little go on the left. I’m quite versatile so I’ve kind of found my home at wing-back, really.
“I’ve gone to Ipswich and had a good season at, no disrespect to Fleetwood, a much bigger club with fans putting pressure on us to get promoted. They expect high quality players.
“I got 13 goals and eight assists so it was a really good season for me.”
Though Burns has yet to make his senior Wales debut, he has previously won 18 Under 21 caps and has played with many of his fellow squad members before.
“I’ve been watching from afar and rooting for them to do well,” said Burns.
“It inspires you to get to where you want to be in your career. Harry Wilson (Fulham) and Dan James (Leeds United) are good examples of that, having worked so hard.
“They are big examples of what you can do if you get your head down and work hard.”