Gemma Grainger confirmed her Cymru backroom staff last month, with one very familiar name headlining the appointments as former Cymru defender Loren Dykes begins the next chapter of her football career as Grainger's assistant.

Dykes will also take over the responsibility of the Cymru U17 squad and the performance squad programme, and her experience for both club and country will be an invaluable inspiration for the next generation.

“Loren brings so much as a coach as an ex-player,” explained Grainger. “Her experience speaks for itself, but from working with Loren in April, some of the strengths that she has I felt were missing in our staff team. Her experience, her knowledge of the team, so when I pulled the staff team together, one of the priorities for me was having diversity in terms of having different people with different strengths. Loren brings us something so unique in terms of who she is as a person, her experiences, and her coaching strengths as well. The way we work together, if we all work together, I know we can bring the best out of each other.”

Making her international debut against the Netherlands in 2007, Dykes has been an integral part of the national team since that time, and became only the second Cymru centurion in history behind Jess Fishlock when she played her 100th international match in April 2019. Retiring from international football on 105 caps earlier this year, Dykes has been fully-focused on the next step in her career and has been involved with the women's intermediate teams prior to her latest appointment.

A pupil at Cwmtawe Community School, Dykes started playing football for local side Pontardawe Town before representing Llanelli Reds, UWIC (now Cardiff Met) and Cardiff City Ladies. During her time at University Dykes also represented the Welsh Universities team. Her biggest move at club level came in the 2008/2009 season when she joined Bristol Academy. Dykes is a two-time finalist of the Women's FA Cup in England and has played in the UEFA Women’s Champions League during her career in addition to her achievements at international level and being awarded the MBE in 2019.

“You need a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work,” Dykes explained to back in 2018. “I've been lucky to work under good coaches and I've been lucky with injuries. I've worked hard and I've been determined to come through setbacks and prove to people I can do this. It's not just about ability. I've been around a long time, but I owe it to a lot of people.”

Completing the backroom staff alongside Loren Dykes are Richard Thomas (assistant coach), Jen Herst (goalkeeping coach) and Luke Taylor (head of physical performance).

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