Robert Page taking cautious approach with Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen and Ben Davies

The trio are fitness concerns for Wales.

Phil Blanche
Tuesday 01 June 2021 14:38
Robert Page during a training session
Robert Page during a training session

Wales boss Robert Page will take no risks rushing back key players for Wednesday’s friendly in France after admitting that some may not fully recover in time for the start of Euro 2020.

Juventus playmaker Aaron Ramsey Stoke midfielder Joe Allen and Tottenham defender Ben Davies are all heading into the European Championship having had little or no game time since the end of March.

Luton defender Tom Lockyer, called up on Monday when James Lawrence dropped out of the 26-man squad through injury, has not played for three months and is another building up his fitness following ankle surgery.

Wales v Hungary – UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying – Group E – Cardiff City Stadium

“We have players that are coming back from injury,” Page said ahead of Wales’ clash with the world champions in Nice.

“We can’t see into the future, we don’t know whether they are going to fully recover. So we have had to take a gamble on a couple of them anyway.

“Aaron has not played the amount of minutes that he would have liked in Italy and we have to be sympathetic.

“We can’t push him at 100 miles per hour to start with. What is important is I have all the best players in the squad ready for that first (Euro 2020) game against Switzerland.

Wales Training Session – Day Two – Vale Resort

“It’s pointless pushing him early doors and have somebody break down when you are past that point of no return and they are out for the first couple of games.”

Ramsey, who has rarely been available for Wales in recent years, started only three games for Juventus since March, while Allen has not played since being injured on World Cup qualifying duty against Belgium two months ago.

Davies has not featured since March 21 because of a calf problem.

“Ben Davies and all the lads that haven’t played many minutes, we have to manage their minutes,” Page said.

“You can’t expect those players to go straight into playing France for 90 minutes without having repercussions. It’s common sense.”

Wales start their Euro 2020 campaign against Switzerland in Baku on June 12 before completing their Group A fixtures against Turkey and Italy.

France are ranked second in the world and Page believes playing them is ideal preparation for their Switzerland opener at the Euros.

“It’s a great test for many reasons,” said Page, whose side play a final warm-up friendly against Albania at the Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday.

It's a worthwhile exercise to give us a heads up in what we are going to face against Switzerland

Wales boss Robert Page on France friendly

“We are going to face similar opposition against Switzerland in how they press and how aggressive they are.

“It’s a worthwhile exercise to give us a heads up in what we are going to face against Switzerland.

“It’s a big ask and there’ll be times when France will have a lot of the ball and we’ll have to defend as a unit.

“We are going to have to work hard and that’s going to be a theme throughout the tournament.

Wales Training Session – Day Two – Vale Resort

“But we know in transition when we’ve got the ball we’ve got players in the team who can hurt opposition – and that’ll be the plan going into the game.

“It’s not going to be the starting XI (for the Euro 2020 opener), but our focus is on the first game of the tournament.

“These two friendlies are going to help us achieve getting our best XI on that pitch for Switzerland.”

Page said Gareth Bale is in a “good place” going into the Euros after his late-season scoring form at Spurs.

Leicester City v Tottenham Hotspur – Premier League – King Power Stadium

The Wales captain, who has refused to comment on reports in Spain that he could retire after Euro 2020, says he will sort out his future after the tournament.

“I have open and honest conversations with Gareth,” Page said.

“The priority is he’s in good form coming into this tournament. What he does after this tournament and long-term, I have no input whatsoever.

“I don’t want to be a part of that. That is up for him and his family to decide on what he does and what is best for Gareth.

“What concerns me is what he is like, what frame of mind he is in and what form he is in and that ticks all the boxes right now.”