Leeds United youngster reveals 'first-team' goal and pathway after rare international recognition
Leeds United youngster Charlie Crew is hopeful of breaking into the Wales first-team over the next couple of years having traversed the Under-17, Under-19 and Under-21 groups during 2023.
Crew is one of Thorp Arch's up-and-coming midfield prospects and has played a central role for the Under-21s this season, having joined from Cardiff City last summer - a move which the teenager says was a hard decision, but is paying off.
The 17-year-old has been called up to Wales' Under-21 group, led by ex-Leeds man Matty Jones, again this month and appears to have committed his international future to the country of his birth, despite supposed 'aggressive' interest from England, for whom he also qualifies to represent.
As quoted by WalesOnline, Crew says the pathway available to him at Wales, and to a lesser extent Leeds where the first-team picture is a great deal more crowded, is a great source of motivation.
"There is a pathway that's been shown to us from when we were under-16s and under-17s, in regional camps. So the fact [Jones] is trusting me to be in the under-21s squad is amazing," Crew said.
"I have to be patient. I still have time and I'm still developing as a player. I've still got so much to learn. I just have to be patient and, with all the hard work, listening to Matty, the coaches at Leeds, hopefully I will develop and move on to the first team at some point."
Recently-departed Leeds Under-21s head coach Michael Skubala has described Crew as a 'chaser' and ambitious.
"He chases and he's looking up and he's going 'I want some of that' and I think that's what you need from young players of that age. He's really good, potential at the moment but he's got to move that into performance and also move that into senior performances as well, if and when he gets opportunities," the new Lincoln City head coach said.
Crew is the youngest member of Wales' current Under-21 squad and the only 2006-born player named in Jones' squad for fixtures against Iceland and Denmark this month. The Leeds teenager made his debut at this particular youth international level back in September aged 17 years and 2 months. Only a handful of players in Wales history have made their U21 bow at a younger age, including Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey, Chris Gunter, Craig Bellamy, Jonathan Williams and Rabbi Matondo - all of whom have gone on to become full internationals.