Allen hopes hard work pays off
The 21-year-old, who was named Wales Young Footballer of the Year on Tuesday evening, heads into the the Euro 2012 qualifying double-header against Switzerland and Bulgaria on the back of a man-of-the-match display in Swansea's 2-0 win over Stoke on Sunday. And with Celtic's Joe Ledley having withdrawn from Wales manager Gary Speed's squad, there is a slot in the Dragons midfield to be filled. Allen is likely to be the man to be assigned to that role, and while he is taking nothing for granted he believes his top-flight experiences mean he is ready for the responsibility. "I said to myself at the start of the year that my aim first and foremost was to get a Premier League start, and then from there to get my first international start," he said. "I am an ambitious guy and I understand you need to play regular club football to stake a claim and as long as I can keep my place in the Swansea team I will remain optimistic of getting a place in the Wales side. "You always have to be hopeful and ready for selection, throughout this week I have worked as hard as any other week and come game time we will see what happens. "But any international manager wants their players playing at the highest level possible and me, Neil Taylor and Ashley Williams have the chance to compete at that level and I am sure it can only help us on the international scene. "The grounds and occasions in the Premier League give you the experience you need at international level. Swansea had the play-off final at Wembley in May and we have played at Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal. "You are playing against world class players in great stadiums and that helps you cope with the demands of the international game." Like Allen, Wales are preparing to face Ottmar Hitzfeld's side in buoyant mood. Last month's 2-1 victory over qualification hopefuls Montenegro gave Speed and company their first points of the Group G campaign, a result they backed up with a good performance in the 1-0 defeat to England at Wembley. Allen knows the importance of maintaining that momentum as thoughts begin to turn ahead to the qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup, but believes a squad with such young talent as Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Neil Taylor can only head in the right direction. He said: "Throughout the squad we have some top players, young players who are going to get better, it's where I want to be. As I said I am ambitious and confident I can play at that level and it's where I want to be. "We felt we were one or two games away from turning the corner and despite losing at Wembley we can be happy with the levels of performance and we are looking to build on that."