WALES boss Jayne Ludlow has defended the decision to stage this month’s huge World Cup qualifier against England at Rodney Parade in Newport.

All 5,000 tickets for the August 31 clash, which if Wales win would see them reach the finals for the first time, were snapped up within 24 hours of going on sale.

However, there have been a number of dissenting voices, mainly from the other side of the Severn Bridge, criticising the choice of venue given the magnitude of the game.

But Ludlow, speaking today at the National Eisteddfod in Cardiff after signing a new four-year contract, is having none of it.

“I’m really happy,” she said.

“Rodney Parade was always going to be a venue for us and we really enjoy the environment.

“When you look around Wales and the facilities we have, a stadium up to 10,000 is probably ideal.

“We’re hoping to get lots of bums on seats there and lots of support.

“If we go bigger than that then the reality is we’re going to have a half-empty stadium.

“That’s not what we want. We want to feel fully supported and that environment gives us that.

“The surface is far better than it has ever been in the past so it suits the things we like to do.

“I think people are losing the reality of it, it’s our home game, it’s our choice.

“The interesting thing is, whether they acknowledge it or not, we’re a very small nation with far less budgets so our stadia are very different to what they have across the bridge.”

She added: “We were fortunate with how this World Cup campaign has worked out with regards to fixtures.

“There were certain things we made sure happened when we went to those meetings originally and thankfully we had what we wanted.

“We played a lot of away games first knowing that if we did well in those we had a great run-in at the end, and that’s what this is.

“To play in front of a home crowd is what the players want to do more often.

“They’ve had the experience of the last few games and they are absolutely loving it, and looking forward to what will hopefully be anot-her great occasion for them.”

Wales sit top of Group 1, one point ahead of Phil Neville’s England who have two games of their qualifying campaign left.

A win for the hosts would definitely see them through to the finals in France next year, otherwise they could be looking at a place in the play-offs.

Incredibly, Ludlow’s ladies are yet to concede a goal in the round-robin stages, with one of their seven clean sheets coming in the reverse fixture with the English in Southampton in April.

Captain Sophie Ingle will lead a squad that includes the experience of Jess Fishlock, Natasha Harding and Angharad James, while Kayleigh Green is selected after scoring four goals in qualifying so far.

However, Charlie Estcourt misses out again as she recovers from a knee injury.

Commenting on her new deal with the FAW, Ludlow said: “I am so proud to be managing the national team, it’s a great honour.

“The challenges that we have ahead of us in terms of next year’s World Cup and beyond excite me a great deal as we aim to get Wales to a major tournament for the first time.”