Wales Under-21 manager Geraint Williams is backing highly-rated Leeds United midfielder Chris Dawson to be a star of the future for both club and country – if he continues his impressive development.
The talented schemer, 18, is enjoying a rewarding 2012-13 campaign, which has seen him notch up many milestones – including penning his first professional deal, making his debut at under-21 level for Wales and receiving his own squad number.
As yet, Dawson is still waiting to make his senior debut for United, despite being named on the bench three times by Whites manager Neil Warnock.
But with United’s season set to peter out in the coming weeks, the smart money is on the teenager – an unused substitute in the recent Championship derby with Huddersfield Town – being blooded between now and May 4.
Warnock has already spoken extremely positively about the Dewsbury-born midfielder, contracted with United until 2015, saying he would ‘not being surprised’ if he makes his first-team debut in the latter stages of the season, while tipping him to be a future crowd favourite.
Dawson has also made a big impression with Wales Under-21 chief Williams, denied the chance to have another look at him in his side’s Uefa U21 Championship opener with Moldova at Parc-y-Scarlets last Friday with the young United star suffering with a slight groin strain.
Williams said: “Chris is very energetic and enthusiastic and a good ball-player.
“He is bright and sees things and that position just off from the striker or as one of three midfielders is made for him.
“He came to my attention and I drove up to Leeds to watch him play for their under-21s against Crewe at their training ground and I was very, very impressed.
“While physically, he may be small in stature, he still had an influence on that game.
“Chris has got an awful lot going for him and what I like about him is that he has a very professional attitude.
“He wants to be a player and improve and for a lad who is not the biggest, he has got a very competitive nature and puts his foot in.
“I don’t think he will be intimated if people try to stop him with all the ability he has got. If he keeps his head down, he’ll have a real chance.
“Chris was unfortunate in that he felt his groin in training last Tuesday morning, so he came back for treatment at his club. He would certainly have been involved otherwise.”
Dawson showcased his talent consummately during an excellent cameo from the bench on his under-21 international debut in last month’s friendly victory over Iceland at Llanelli – after entering the fray on 64 minutes.
The score when he came on was 0-0, but three goals in the final 12 minutes enabled Wales to canter to a 3-0 success, with Dawson setting up a goal for Crystal Palace midfielder Jonathan Williams, the name on many Welsh supporters lips after his top-notch debut performance for the senior team in their 2-1 triumph over Scotland at Hampden Park in last Friday’s Group A World Cup qualifier.
And Williams has already noticed similarities between Dawson and his Eagles contemporary.
Williams said: “On his debut, Chris helped change the game along with Jonny. Both looked to be on the same wavelength, which is very exciting.
“It’s great to have players who are comfortable on the ball and who want to get it down and pass it. Jonny always had ability, but because he is slight in stature, it’s a case of filling out and having the strength to hold players off. But the main thing is players like him and Chris getting on the ball and dictating play.”