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Socceroos unlikely for Everton's Jones

Press Association logoPress Association 24/05/2017 By Phil Blanche, Press Association Sport

Everton's Gethin Jones is set to join the Wales squad as Chris Coleman wards off interest from Australia in the Perth-born youngster.

Wales have a squad get-together in Portugal next week ahead of the World Cup qualifier in Serbia on June 11, and Jones has been pencilled in for the Algarve trip with the Socceroos keen to bring the 21-year-old defender on board.

Coleman names his squad for the Belgrade qualifier on Thursday and Wales are increasingly confident that Jones - who earlier this week agreed a new 12-month contract extension at Goodison Park - will commit to them.

Welsh-speaker Jones, who left Australia as a young child and has been on Everton's books since the age of 12, has captained Wales sides at various levels.

He said in an interview earlier this year that he felt "more Welsh than Australian", but did not close the door on playing for the land of his birth.

"Australia contacted Everton two or three months back asking for me to play for their Under-23s, but I didn't want to make any decisions then," Jones told the Football League Paper in February.

"I feel more Welsh than Australian. I've been Wales captain from the Under-16s to the Under-21s so if the first team called I'd definitely go for that.

"But it depends now. If Australia came in before Wales you never know, it's something I'd have to seriously think about."

Jones has made one senior appearance for Everton, against Russian side Krasnodar in the Europa League in December 2014, and enjoyed successful loan spells at Plymouth and Barnsley.

He made 17 Championship appearances for Barnsley in the second half of last season before returning to Everton and helping David Unsworth's Under-23 side clinch the Premier League 2 title.

Australia have still kept the door open to Jones after he turned down an invitation to join a development squad camp in Spain in March.

"He is a very good player, and is playing in a position which we need to cover well," Australia Under-23 coach Josep Gombau told www.beinsports.com last month.

"If he were to change his mind he'd have a good chance of progressing.

"Maybe one day he will become a Socceroo, but right now he's not thinking in this way."

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