Wales’ St Pauli defender James Lawrence admits he would love to meet Germany at Euro 2020.
Lawrence has become a senior player at St Pauli since joining the Hamburg-based club in 2019, even captaining the Bundesliga 2 outfit at times this season, after previous spells in Holland, Belgium and Slovakia.
“It would be a fantastic game to play against the country you’re playing in with your national team,” said Lawrence, who is expected to be named in Wales’ 26-man Euros squad on Sunday evening.
“I played against Belgium a few months ago having known a few of the players there. It’s always a nice feeling when that happens.
“The support I’ve had from St Pauli has been tremendous – the fans, the coaches, the players, all the staff – and it’s a club that definitely gives you the feeling that you’ve got the support back there.
“Being captain there was a big step in my development, and to be one of the best teams in the second half of the season in our league was a big step for us.”
Lawrence, who was born in the Oxfordshire town of Henley-on-Thames, qualified for Wales through a grandmother from Pembrokeshire and he has won nine caps since making his debut in 2018.
The 28-year-old headed for the continent after starting his youth career at Arsenal and QPR and spent time at the Ajax academy.
Lawrence also enrolled at the Johan Cruyff Institute in Amsterdam – where he studied for a degree in sport management – before making his senior debut at AS Trencin in Slovakia.
He then had a two-year spell at Anderlecht in Belgium before joining St Pauli, and his experience of continental football could prove invaluable for Wales this summer.
“I’d like to think it’s helped me so far in my career,” Lawrence said of his European travels. “It’s a big part of the reason where I am now.
“I was in Belgium when I was first selected for Wales. I like to lean on that experience a little bit in order to progress.”
Wales are well stocked with central defenders as Lawrence, Joe Rodon, Chris Mepham, Ben Cabango and Tom Lockyer all competing for places in Robert Page’s squad.
Ben Davies, Chris Gunter and Ethan Amapdu can also fill in at centre-back if needed.
Lawrence said: “We’ve got a lot of good players in the same position. It’s good competition for places, that’s always very healthy and ups everyone’s game.
“It would be a dream come true to make the squad at a big tournament like that, it would mean the world to me.
“People will take note of what we did at the last Euros (Wales reached the semi-finals in 2016) and take us quite seriously.
“Teams have known what to expect from us since then, but we’ve had good results and definitely risen to the challenge.”
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