Returning Aberdeen attacker Ryan Hedges has not given up on his dream of starring for Wales at this summer’s Euro 2020 finals.
After three months out injured, Hedges admits forcing his way into Robert Page’s Welsh squad for the finals next month is an outside chance.
However, the 25-year-old is clinging to that slim hope and aims to use the remaining two games of the Premiership campaign to catch the eye of Page, who will lead the Welsh in the tournament.
Such was the extent of Hedges’ injury suffered in February, surgery was required after the pectoral muscle was ripped off the bone.
He spent a month in a sling and the attacker feared not just his season was over but that he would also miss pre-season for the next campaign.
Against the odds, Hedges returned to action off the bench in the 2-1 defeat of Livingston and scored within four minutes.
Now he wants to overcome the odds again by making a late push into the Welsh Euro 2020 squad.
That window of opportunity opened slightly with Uefa expanding the squad size from 23 to 26 players for this summer’s tournament.
On hopes of selection for the Euro finals, Hedges said: “You never know.
“I can only give myself the best chance to try and make that squad.
“I know it is probably an outside chance having been out of the game for three months – but stranger things have happened.
“Obviously the main priority was just getting fit and now I am.”
The decision to allow three extra players was taken by Uefa’s national teams committee last Monday in a move lessen the burden on players after a club season compressed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
If a Covid-19 outbreak occurs in a squad during the tournament, it is hoped the extra players will also help managers cope better.
The decision will be subject to ratification later this week, but is not expected to meet any opposition.
Capped three times by his country, Hedges was part of the Welsh squad which secured Euro 2020 qualification with a 2-0 defeat of Hungary in November 2019.
Absolute pleasure to be a part of this special squad ❤️🙌🏼 https://t.co/5CxxFkcJjK
— Ryan Hedges (@RyanHedges95) November 19, 2019
Wales will face Italy, Switzerland and Turkey in Group A.
To have any chance of making a late push for the Euro squad as Wales bid to follow up their semi-final heroics of Euro 2016, Hedges will have to make a major impression in the remaining two Premiership games of the season.
Scoring four minutes after a return from long-term injury is the ideal start.
Such was his immediate impact against Livingston, manager Stephen Glass hailed the return of the attacker as being akin to landing a ‘new signing’.
Hedges aims to play a key role in the battle with Hibs to finish third in the Premiership.
Hedges said: “My main focus now is just trying to get six points and if we can get third place that would be great.
“But we just have to end the season well and kick on for next season.
“On the whole it has been a poor season for our standards, but we have two games now to put it right.
“Hibs come to us a week on Wednesday, which is a massive game for us and hopefully we are still within reach of third place.”
Hedges’ season looked to be over in early February when he suffered the pectoral injury in the early stages of a 2-0 defeat to Livingston at Pittodrie on February 2.
He explained: “My pec tendon came out the bone, so I needed surgery to reattach it and stints to hold it in place.
“Four to six months was the original diagnosis and I thought I’d be lucky to see pre-season.
“The surgery went really well and the recovery and rehabilitation process has been really good.
“I had four weeks of being in a sling not being able to do much.
“We took it week by week.
“When you are in a cast the physios are moving your arm for you as you cannot do it yourself and it was a weird process.
“It was baby steps, but I’ve kicked on to the point they were happy enough to put me into training and games.
“Since then we’ve kicked on and thankfully I’m back playing rather than watching from the stands.
“I can’t think the physio team here enough for all the work they have done with me to get me back way ahead of schedule.
“I’d been out for three months nearly to the day, so it is nice to be back playing amongst the boys and to top it off with a goal was even sweeter.”