ADAM Henley has barely had chance to draw breath this summer — not that the young Blackburn Rovers right-back would have had it any other way.

When the final whistle sounded on Rovers’ 3-2 home win over Ipswich Town nine weeks ago, the vast majority of Gary Bowyer’s squad were able to put their feet up and rest and recuperate after another gruelling Championship campaign.


Not Henley who, after a short break, was back at Brockhall starting the preparations for what would prove to be one of the most memorable nights of his promising career.

From there the 21-year-old headed to the Vale of Glamorgan for a five-day Wales training camp ahead of his international side’s crunch Euro 2016 qualifier against Belgium.

The work that Wales, managed by former Rovers defender Chris Coleman, put in behind the scenes certainly paid off.

As, roared on by a partisan home crowd on an emotional evening at Cardiff City Stadium, a goal from Real Madrid superstar Gareth Bale earned Coleman’s exciting young side a superb 1-0 success.

The vital victory hauled Wales three points clear at the top of the Group B standings and to the brink of qualification for the country’s first major tournament in 58 years.

Henley, who was an unused substitute on one of the greatest nights in Welsh football history, says it would be a dream to play in the finals in France next summer.

But if he is to achieve that, he knows he will have to continue where he left off for Rovers last season.

“It was an unbelievable night,” remembers Henley, who capped a weekend to remember when he turned 21 two days after the win over a Belgium team that is ranked second in the world.

“All my friends were saying it looked an amazing atmosphere on television but I do not think that it could do it justice to what it was like on the night in Cardiff.

“It was unlike anything I have experienced before. There was just so much positivity and you could tell that the whole country was behind the team.

“We have got belief going through the team and you could see that in the performance the lads put in and the way they set out.

“Credit to Chris Coleman for that. There is a lot of quality in the squad, like any national team, but sometimes it does not fit.

“But Chris Coleman has brought it all together and we have made a massive step in our goal towards qualification.

“I enjoy every time I go away with the Wales squad. The experiences I get are invaluable for me as a young player.

“I want to continue doing well for the club and keep getting those call-ups.

“And that is the way it is always going to work. If you are not performing for your club, then you cannot expect to be called up automatically for your country.

“So it is good to have that opportunity and it gives me a goal and something to work towards and something to look forward to.”

Henley will return to training today having been given extra time off by Bowyer after his marathon season finally came to an end 11 months after it started.

It is a season on which he can look back with a great deal of pride.

Crucially it was the first in which he stayed free of the injuries that had hampered his progress after bursting on to the scene as a 17-year-old.

Henley, though, had to wait for his chance.

Despite impressing whenever he was called into action, it was not until February that he truly nailed down the right-back spot.

During his spells on the sidelines there were times when he considered asking Blackburn manager Bowyer to send him out on loan to get games.

Instead Henley used his time out of the team to work closely with first-team coach Craig Shot on the areas of his defending he felt required improvement.

It proved a wise decision as, on his return to the team, the academy graduate went from strength to strength.

He scored his first senior goal in the 2-1 victory at Sheffield Wednesday, putting a classy finishing touch to a flowing team move which he had started.

And his outstanding performances against Liverpool, and England star Raheem Sterling in particular, in the FA Cup quarter-final clashes at Anfield and Ewood Park drew widespread praise.

“The end of the season came at a bad time for me,” said Henley, who was recalled to the Wales squad on the back of his display in the initial last-eight tie with Liverpool, the club he supported as a boy.

“I wanted it to carry but I am really looking forward to getting back in, starting pre-season, then starting the season as strongly as I can and as strongly as I finished the last one.

“It is going to be a vital season for me, especially at such a young age.

“This is the season I feel I have got to cement my place for 40-odd games.

“I cannot afford to be dipping in and dipping out. I need a full season, which is something I have not managed to get on my résumé yet, whether that has been because of injury or lack of form.

“But I really feel that at the start of this season I have got to give myself a chance of playing every game.”

Preparations for that start this morning when, along with Northern Ireland international Corry Evans, he drives through the Brockhall gates.

And Henley said: “A lot of players complain about pre-season but it is vital to the game nowadays and it is more and more important as the games progress.

“You can see how tough it is in the Championship, with the amount of games you play, so you need that base fitness behind you.

“So, while it is tough at times, it is part of the job and we have got some good games to get our team together.”

Rovers make the short trip to Accrington Stanley on Saturday for their first pre-season friendly (3pm).