Rising star Smith relishes thrill of captaining Wales Under-19s

Dominic Smith, the latest in a growing line of Shrewsbury Town youngsters to gain Welsh youth caps, is hoping his first taste of international captaincy can boost his prospects of pushing for a breakthrough at Shrewsbury Town.

Fellow defender Connor Goldson, who has skippered Town in many of their early season matches, certainly believes the 18-year-old local lad has a bright future.

Goldson revealed the Shrewsbury squad were delighted to learn that Smith, a former pupil at Shrewsbury’s Belvidere School, enjoyed the huge honour of captaining the Wales under-19 side to a 2-1 victory in a friendly away to Montenegro last week.

“He’s a very good talent and he’s a good defender,” said Goldson. “He enjoys defending and he’s good on the ball as well. We were all proud of him and happy for him that he was captain of Wales under-19s.

“It’s just a stepping stone and the main thing for him is getting into this first team, and as long as he keeps working hard every single day like he is then he should do that.”

The clash in Montenegro was Smith’s ninth appearance for the young Dragons, but the first time he had been asked to wear the armband having been handed the role by Wales coach Dave Hughes, the former Shrewsbury defender who was once head of youth at the Greenhous Meadow.

Smith, 18, qualifies for Wales as his grandmother is from Mid Wales and he now hopes to make the step up internationally to under-21 level.

“It was amazing,” said Smith, a promising central defender. “I was very happy to get called up to the squad again and really enjoyed it.

“I found out I was going to be captain about 10 minutes before we left the hotel to go to the game and it was pretty much a shock. To be captain at any age is an honour and I couldn’t have asked for more.

“I feel a proper part of the team and I want to push for the under-21s now – that’s the next goal.”

Smith insisted he was grateful for the faith shown in him by his international coach Hughes.

“When he was here at Shrewsbury he signed my scholarship contract,” he revealed. “He also moved me up from the under-15s to the youth team.”

Smith, now part of the first team squad at the Greenhous Meadow, has been on the bench for the first team several times over the last two years, most recently for the Capital One Cup victory at Premier League Leicester, as he edges closer to a senior debut.

“I’ve just got to impress the gaffer,” he said. “Being on the bench at Leicester was amazing and our supporters were great.

“I’m absolutely itching and I know my time will come – and when my name’s called, I’ll be ready.”

As for Goldson, 21, he admitted he sees similarities between himself and Smith when he was the same age.

“He’s a bit quieter but when he gets on the pitch he’s loud, and that’s obviously what you need to be as a defender,” said Goldson.

“We’re similar as in player wise as he likes to play football from the back, but he’s a very good player and the future should be bright for him if he just applies himself properly.”

Pictured: Dominic Smith in action as captain for Shrewsbury reserves in this week’s 3-3 draw against Morecambe at the Greenhous Meadow.