PEMBROKESHIRE’S Joe Allen has been named in Wales’ squad for this month’s World Cup qualifiers - with the Stoke City midfielder returning to the national set-up for the first time in 16 months.

The 31-year-old’s most recent appearance for his country was against Hungary in November 2019, when Wales clinched qualification for the Euro 2020 finals – which were postponed to this year.

The former Swansea City and Liverpool midfielder ruptured an Achilles tendon playing for Stoke in March 2020, but returned to the Championship in December after surgery and a nine-month absence.

Allen, who grew up in Narberth and is a former pupil at Ysgol y Preseli in Crymych, returned to the Stoke first team on Boxing Day, after his injury in the final game before the first national lockdown.

He had faced missing the Euro 2020 Championships with Wales, but the tournament was postponed last summer, because of the coronavirus pandemic, and is rearranged for 11 June to 11 July.

He has won 56 Wales caps, and was a key part of Chris Coleman’s side that reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016 – and an in-form Allen will be a huge boost to the chances of the current side.

Wales’ assistant boss Robert Page will be in charge due to the absence of Ryan Giggs, who has had his bail extended after an allegation of assault, and he is delighted to see Allen in the squad.

“I have been to see Joe a couple of times in the last couple of months and he is looking good, the way that Stoke have managed him back to full fitness has been a credit to them,” said Page.

Wales start their World Cup campaign away to Belgium on 24 March, and then have a friendly against Mexico, before their second qualifier at home against the Czech Republic on 30 March.

Juventus midfielder Aaron Ramsey has also been named in Wales’ squad for this month’s World Cup qualifiers, despite reports in Italy that the former Arsenal star had suffered a thigh injury.

The experienced 30 year-old has featured in just three of Wales’ past 15 games, with his most recent appearance being against the Republic of Ireland in the Nations League last November.

Goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey also returns after making a comeback for Crystal Palace U23s against Bolton, his first football since suffering a thigh injury in Wales’ win over Bulgaria in October.

Meanwhile Ben Davies, Ben Cabango, Hal Robson-Kanu, Dylan Levitt and Rabbi Matondo also all return to the Wales squad, after missing recent games with injury.

Full Wales squad: Hennessey, Ward, A Davies, King, Gunter, B Davies, C Roberts, Ampadu, Mepham, Lockyer, Rodon, J Lawrence, N Williams, Norrington-Davies, Cabango, Ramsey, Allen, J Williams, Wilson, James, Smith, Morrell, Levitt, Johnson, Sheehan, Bale, Robson-Kanu, T Lawrence, Moore, T Roberts, Matondo.