Woodburn, Ampadu are ‘destined to become world class’

Ian Rush believes Wales teenagers Ben Woodburn and Ethan Ampadu are destined to become world-class players.

Liverpool striker Woodburn and Chelsea defender Ampadu are both set to feature in friendlies against World Cup finalists France and Panama.

Wales play France in Paris on Friday night – the first time the two countries have met since Rush scored in a Dragons’ victory 35 years ago – before entertaining Panama in Cardiff four days later.

“These are two great games and the first one is an opportunity to play one of the best teams in the world,” Rush told Press Association Sport.

“It is a massive experience for the young players and I am really looking forward to seeing them.

“They will want to show Chris Coleman (Wales manager) that they are ready to produce.”

Woodburn made a sensational debut in September when he scored the winner against Austria within five minutes of coming on as a substitute.

The 18-year-old is expected to make his first start against Panama while Ampadu, 17, is set for his international debut just a month after making his senior Chelsea bow.

“These young lads are fearless,” Rush said at a McDonald’s kit handover in Wrexham.

“I’ve known Ben since he was 12 or 13 and he’s played more for Wales than Liverpool this season.

“But he’s a huge talent and it’s the same with Ethan, who I think is a star in the making.

“These two lads are going to be world class, it’s only injury that can stop them.

“I’ve seen them training with the Wales squad and they were the best players there.

“It was the same with young David Brooks. He was like lightning and that really puts the older players on their guard.”

Although excited by Wales’ future, Rush’s thoughts have turned to the past since the Stade de France fixture was announced.

France and Wales have not met since June 1982 when Rush’s close-range strike gave the visitors a surprise victory in Toulouse.

“It was their last game before they went to the World Cup in Spain that year,” Rush said.

“They had some really skillful players – with (Michel) Platini, (Alain) Giresse and (Jean) Tigana in midfield – and it was a real smash and grab win for us.

“Platini said to me later ‘How did you win that game?’ and I always remember our goalkeeper, Dai Davies, saying to me no-one would believe the result back home.

“They got to the semi-finals of the World Cup a few weeks later and really were something special – and that was the start of their run because they became European champions two years later.”