Wales boss explains Bristol Rovers and Sheffield Wednesday snub after Collins and Vaulks excluded

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The in-form Gas striker did not receive the call-up he had been hoping for

Rob Page has admitted he hasn’t spoken to Aaron Collins after the Bristol Rovers star was excluded from his Wales squad for this months upcoming fixtures.

Collins was pushing for a call-up after his exceptional form with the Gas this season, with 15 goals and 11 assists. The 25-year-old admitted in February that it would be a ‘dream’ to receive the call and whilst he wasn’t guaranteed a place, his form had plenty calling for him to be included.

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He, along with Sheffield Wednesday’s Will Vaulks however have not been included for their upcoming matches against Croatia and Latvia next week. Vaulks has had seven caps for Wales, whilst Collins has only represented his country once which was at Under-19 level.

“I haven’t spoken to both players,” said Page to Welsh football website Y Clwb Pel-droed after being quizzed about Collins and Vaulks’ exclusion. “We’re in a transition period at the minute, and I want to bring in the younger players.

“Will has been great for us over the years whenever we’ve needed him, and he’s doing well at club level at this moment in time, but I have a lot of trust in the squad that I’ve selected.”

Page’s focus on youth has seen 17-year-old Luke Harris called up ahead of Collins. Harris has made three substitute appearances for Fulham in the Premier League this season, in addition to appearances in the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup.

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Nathan Broadhead - who scored five goals for Wigan Athletic in the Championship - is included in the squad, as is his Ipswich Town teammate Wes Burns, as well as League One rival Joe Morrell.

Broadhead and Harris are two of four uncapped players with Swansea City’s Oli Cooper and Jordan James of Birmingham City included. Despite no call-up for Collins, 14-time international Tom Lockyer, formerly of the Gas is included.

Emphasising his commitment to youth, Page said: “I haven’t gone for a big squad, we’ve cut the numbers down a little bit, but with the young players in the squad, they’re the ones I feel that are out there at the moment who are ready to step up.

“I’m in close contact with Matty Jones (Wales U21 manager), and when he feels the next batch of young players are coming through and ready to step up, we’ll be in contact with them as well.”

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