Joe Allen speaks Wales call-up, nine-month long injury and facing Belgium

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Lewis Sharpe March 24, 2021

Published: Y Clwb Pel-Droed

Wales midfielder Joe Allen has opened up on his recovery as he makes a return to the international fold.

The 31-year-old rejoins the Welsh set-up having last been in the squad in November 2019.

Allen was forced to spend nine months on the sidelines after rupturing his Achilles tendon, which had initially ruled him out of EURO 2020.

‘’I was in a position where I just wanted to make sure that I could get it right and get back to the same level,’’ explained Allen.

‘’Naturally, with the pandemic, there were concerns about how much rehab I could get and what access to facilities I could get. I can honestly say that it hasn’t turned out to have affected me, and I think they were more just concerns that I had rather than having any big impact.’’

‘’I think seeing your team train and play is the toughest part but we’re well-drilled in understanding injuries. As tough as it is, you know that it’s not going to be forever, and eventually you are going to get back out on the grass.”

Allen made his first appearance back for Stoke City in December and has featured 18 times in the Championship since.

‘’Nine months in the grand scheme of things isn’t really that long. It feels like an age when you’re going through it, but I got through. I’ve had no issues with the injuries since coming back. Hopefully, that will remain the case.’’

Allen received support from his compatriots during his spell on the side lines.

‘’I had some messages, and I was in touch. I wasn’t forgotten about which, I think for an injured player is important. I think you want to feel like you’re still going to be part of the plans once you get over the hurdle of rehab.’’

‘’I had great support, and a lot of the lads were a good help as well.’’

Allen is at home at the bet365 Stadium as part of a strong Welsh contingent and he believes this will positively impact the squad’s morale.

Adam Davies, Rabbi Matondo and Rhys Norrington-Davies are all on the books of the Potters, but will all be hoping to pull the red of Wales on this week.

James Chester, Morgan Fox and Sam Vokes are the only Welshmen who have been left behind.

‘’We’ve got a lot of Welsh lads at Stoke and it’s great. We’ve got good bonds, stronger bonds and we play with each other at club level. You can see with like you said the ‘Welsh Mafia’ at Spurs, Joe [Rodon], Gaz [Bale], and Ben [Davies] have a close bond that they’ve got.

‘’These are things that are great when you come away. That’s been a good thing and it also means that we can keep an eye on all things international when we’re at our clubs, so I think it’s been a help and hopefully we can show that when we get back on the pitch as well.’’

Wales travel to Belgium to kick-off their World Cup qualifying campaign on Wednesday night. Belgium are the top-ranked international side in FIFA’s World Rankings.

‘’I think we’re pretty diligent in how we approach every game,’’ added Allen.

‘’I think we don’t leave any stone unturned, whether it’s against the stronger teams or the teams deemed to be weaker. I think we’re a good camp in terms of preparing and making sure we do absolutely everything to get to know the team we’re playing, what to expect. Even if they are a team like Belgium, who are probably going to cause you more problems than most.’’

Facing Belgium gives the players an opportunity to test themselves with some of the best players in the world.

‘’I can’t speak for every footballer, but I’m pretty sure across the board, that’s what it’s all about for the majority of us. You want to challenge yourself at the highest level, expose yourself against the best teams and the best players and these are the games you want to be a part of, and I think that runs throughout our squad. We want to try and prove that we’re worthy of coming up against these teams and these players.’’