New boss Rhian Wilkinson plans to bring an end to Wales’ major tournament wait by adding her own touch to ‘The Welsh Way’.

Wales welcome Croatia to Wrexham on Friday for their opening Euro 2025 qualifier, with Wilkinson just over a month into the role following Gemma Grainger’s shock departure to manage Norway.

Wilkinson won 183 caps for Canada between 2003 and 2017 but the 41-year-old has done her coaching badges through the Football Association of Wales, where she is currently studying for her Pro Licence.

“The Welsh Way has been something I’ve been educated in since 2015 when I started getting my coaching licences,” Wilkinson, the former England and Team GB assistant coach, said ahead of her Wales bow.

“What I really enjoy that there’s a very clear style of play that we’re trying to achieve as a country and a federation.

“But there’s a lot of leeway within that for a new coach to come in and bring it to life.

“I’ve enjoyed that flexibility of having my vision of the game to bring it to life. But it’s nice to know it already, and not to come in and figure it out.”

South Wales Argus: Wales boss Rhian WilkinsonWales boss Rhian Wilkinson (Image: PA)

Wales are the highest-ranked team in their qualifying group and expected to progress and make the play-offs in the autumn.

Wilkinson’s side are 32nd in the FIFA rankings, ahead of group opponents Ukraine (34), Croatia (59) and Kosovo (91).

Wales’ women’s side have never reached a major tournament and suffered 2023 World Cup play-off heartache by losing to a last-minute Switzerland goal.

“I don’t think we can shy away from saying our aim is to qualify,” Wilkinson said.

“There’s no grey area in football, we want to be winning. This is what we’re trying to do.

“If we deliver to the level that we can do, then everything will follow after that.

“That has been the message from the beginning, and I hope it will be to the end of this qualifying campaign.”

Jess Fishlock is on the cusp of reaching 150 caps with the 37-year-old Seattle Reign midfielder set to achieve the landmark by playing against Croatia and in Kosovo on Tuesday.

Wilkinson said: “150 caps is an incredible achievement. Jess is a phenomenal player but an even bigger advocate of the game in Wales.

“Just watching how she goes about making herself available to young players, she continues to build the game here.”