Author: Dafydd Jones
Publisher: Y Clwb Pêl Droed
Wales manager Rob Page has expressed the importance of managing his squad’s play-time in the friendlies against France and Albania.
Page has named his 26-man squad ahead of the European Championships, with certain players heading into the tournament recovering from injuries.
With Euro 2020 starting in just 11 days time against Switzerland, the Wales boss has insisted that he will take no risks in the upcoming friendlies.
“We’ve got players that need minutes and players that aren’t quite ready, so we have to manage that,” he expressed.
“It’s not going to be the starting 11, some of the players will need a certain amount of minutes for their recovery up to full fitness.
“Our focus is on the first game against Switzerland in the tournament. These two friendlies are going to help us get our best 11 on that pitch.”
Some key components of the Wales squad head into the tournament carrying injuries, including Juventus’ Aaron Ramsey.
The midfielder played a crucial part in the success at Euro 2016, in which he was named in the team of the tournament.
However, Ramsey has missed out on recent Wales camps and has struggled to cement a starting place at Juventus due to injury.
Ahead of the friendly against World Champions France, Page expressed the importance of protecting the playmaker.
“Aaron’s probably not played the amount of minutes that he would have liked in Italy, so we’ve got to be sympathetic.
“We can’t push him a hundred miles an hour to start with. What is important for us is that we’ve got the squad ready for that first game.
“It’s pointless pushing them early doors and they break down when you’re past the point of no return and they’re out for the first few games of the tournament.”
Another key part in Wales’ squad who heads into Euro 2020 recovering from injury is left-back Ben Davies.
The Tottenham defender picked up a calf injury in March, but continued playing with the problem in the fixture against Aston Villa due to an injury to Sergio Reguilon.
Much like Ramsey, Page insisted that no risks will be taken on the fitness of the dependable left-back.
“Ben Davies and all the lads that haven’t played a lot of minutes, we have to manage them and can’t expect them to play 90 minutes without any repercussions.
“It’s just common sense a lot of it and having a plan in place for that first game against Switzerland.”
Having announced his 26-man squad for the tournament, Wales’ initial camp included James Lawrence.
However, the defender has had to pull out of the squad due to injury and has been replaced by Luton Town’s Tom Lockyer.
Page expressed the disappointment of losing Lawrence, who arguably had his best game in a Wales shirt in the win over Czech Republic last time out, but insists Lockyer is a quality replacement.
“That’s the emotions of football, the difficulty. The day before, we have to tell Tom Lockyer that he’s not in the 26 and within 12 hours, we’re phoning him to let him know that we’ve called him back in.
“It’s a mixture of emotions with what he’s had to go through as well. It’s great to have him back involved but I’m disappointed for James.”
Despite being called up to replace Lawrence, Lockyer is also recovering from an injury, ruling him out of the friendly against France.
“It’s too soon for Locks. He’s one of the ones who we can’t risk.
“If we push and push and push, then we could push them over the edge and have them out of the competition. We don’t want that.
“We’ve got a 26-man squad now that we’ve got to protect and make sure everyone’s raring to go.”