Natasha Harding: Forward left out of Wales squad for Finland friendly

Natasha Harding has again been left out of Wales’ squad for “personal reasons”.

The forward, 33, is absent from the squad for the friendly with Finland on Saturday, 12 November despite playing regularly for club side Aston Villa.

“I want all players to be available for selection, but with the current situation, it is in the best interests of the player for her not to be here,” Wales boss Gemma Grainger said.

Top goalscorer Helen Ward is included despite hinting at retirement.

Harding, who has won 103 caps, was left out from the Wales squad for their World Cup play-off games with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Switzerland last month.

Grainger says the 33-year-old’s omission is a decision that has been made by the Football Association of Wales (FAW).

“There is a current situation that is ongoing with Tash, the safeguarding and player welfare team are leading on that situation,” Grainger told BBC Sport Wales.

“It is a non-footballing decision but based on that current situation the decision has been made for her not to be with the team.

“The guidance for me is the situation is unchanged until the FAW tell me that she is available for selection.

“Until then it is out of my control and I have to concentrate on the next camp and the players who are here.

“For me as the manager, with it being a non-football decision, that’s about as much as I can say on that.”

Wales will compete for a final time in 2022 against Finland in Spain as they conclude a year that saw them reach a first World Cup play-off where Switzerland defeated them in the final.

Grainger’s side had finished second to France in their qualifying group, securing a play-off place in the process and went on to beat Bosnia-Herzegovina.

But hopes of reaching a first major tournament came to an end in a dramatic play-off final in Switzerland.

Rhiannon Roberts put Wales ahead, but the Swiss fought back to win in the last few seconds of extra time.

Watford forward Ward, 36, had said after the Switzerland defeat that it would be a “challenge” to continue playing for her country.

Wales’ most-capped player, Jess Fishlock, is included after the midfielder completed a gruelling season with club side OL Reign, while forward Chloe Bull retains her spot in the absence of Harding.

Tottenham defender Esther Morgan and Leicester midfielder Hannah Cain remain sidelined with long-term injuries.

Leicester defender Josie Green and Liverpool midfielder Ceri Holland were both named in Grainger’s original squad but have withdrawn through injury, with Holland set to miss several weeks with a groin injury.

Uncapped duo Ella Powell and Alice Griffiths have been added to the squad in their absence.

Cymru: Laura O’Sullivan, Olivia Clark, Safia Middleton-Patel, Rhiannon Roberts, Alice Griffiths, Hayley Ladd, Gemma Evans, Rachel Rowe, Lily Woodham, Sophie Ingle, Anna Filbey, Angharad James, Georgia Walters, Charlie Estcourt, Jess Fishlock, Carrie Jones, Ffion Morgan, Megan Wynne, Elise Hughes, Kayleigh Green, Helen Ward, Ella Powell, Maria Francis-Jones, Chloe Williams, Morgan Rogers, Chloe Bull

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