Wanderers midfielder Josh Sheehan will captain Wales during their friendly against Gibraltar on Thursday evening.

The 29-year-old was a key figure in the middle of the pitch over the past season as Ian Evatt’s side finished third before coming up just short in the play-offs, racking up more than 50 appearances in all competitions and providing 12 league assists – a total only Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, Harrison Burrows and Karamoko Dembele could better.

Sheehan’s performances saw him win both of the top prizes at the Whites’ End of Season awards night at the Toughsheet Community Stadium and he was also shortlisted for PFA Fans’ Player of the Year in the third tier.

The Welshman has come a long way since he was kept out of action for the best part of a year with a serious knee injury suffered in an FA Cup tie at Stockport, which had even cast some doubt over his Bolton future at one stage.

He will now get the honour of leading his country out on the international stage – an experience he admits will be “surreal”.

Rob Page is set to field a young side against Gibraltar, with several players getting the chance to make their debuts, and the manager has decided Sheehan is the right man to wear the armband.

The Bolton midfielder told BBC Sport: “He told me this morning – he pulled me aside after breakfast and said you are playing tomorrow and he just dropped in there, ‘You are going to be leading the boys out’.

 “I couldn’t really believe it to be honest - it’s not something I thought was going to happen. I was happy to be play the game and try to show what I am about, to lead the boys out is something you dream about.”

Sheehan has represented his county on several occasions, most recently in the friendlies against South Korea and Gibraltar earlier this year, but it will be his first start on the international stage.

The Wanderers midfielder added: “It’s a younger group in this camp. I haven’t played so many at internationals but I have played a lot of league games, so maybe he has taken that into consideration.

"Hopefully, I can show that on the pitch. For me playing for Wales was always the goal and to be captain was never part of my plans. To do it is something you will never forget.”

Thursday's match will be Wales’ first since missing out on Euro 2024 qualification after penalty shoot-out heartbreak against Poland in March.

The likes of Aaron Ramsey, Wayne Hennessey, Neco Williams, David Brooks and Harry Wilson are unavailable, while others are set to be rested for Sunday’s clash with Slovakia, who are preparing for the upcoming tournament in Germany.