Enter the Dragons: Three Welsh stars on UEFA Team of the Year shortlist

By JONATHON RAFFERTY

Wales are the toast of British football after UEFA announced their 40-man shortlist for the 2016 team of the year.

Gareth Bale, Joe Allen and Aaron Ramsey have all been nominated after the nations recent success.

Welsh football has seen a recent resurgence over the last few years with Wales stunning European campaign and Swansea’s representation in the Premier League.

The announcement will please Wales boss Chris Coleman, who guided his country to the last four of the European Championships with some incredible performances.

There are no English, Scottish or Irish players in the list in what will come as a blow in particular to English football.

Starting back in 2001, the poll allows fans to pick their team from a choice of four goalkeepers, 12 defenders, 12 midfielders and 12 strikers.

Arsenal are the most represented Premier league side with three, while there are first time inclusions for Leicester City duo Rayid Mahrez and N’Golo Kante – now with Chelsea – but no place for Jamie Vardy.

La Liga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid are well represented with 8 from Madrid and 5 from Barcelona.

France and Spain are the highest represented countries with five, whilst European Champions Portugal have four.

Voting closes on January 3 with the official team announced 48 hours later.

Goalkeepers Gigi Buffon (Juventus), Keylor Navas (Real Madrid), Jan Oblak (Atlético Madrid), Rui Patricio (Sporting).

Defenders Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham Hotspur), Jérôme Boateng (Bayern Munich), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Diego Godin (Atlético Madrid), Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund), Juanfran (Atlético Madrid), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Pepe (Real Madrid), Gerard Piqué (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid).

Midfielders Joe Allen (Stoke City), Yannick Carrasco (Atlético Madrid), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona), N’Golo Kanté (Chelsea), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Grzegorz Krychowiak (PSG), Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City), Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Dimitri Payet (West Ham United), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal).

Forwards Sergio Agüero (Manchester City), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund), Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Antoine Griezmann (Atlético Madrid), Gonzalo Higuaín (Juventus), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Neymar (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal), Luis Suárez (Barcelona).

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