Wales will be without 13 players for Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Belarus in Kazan, Russia.
Aaron Ramsey and Kieffer Moore are among seven players to pull out because of injury,
and Covid-19, while three more are absent because of visa issues.
Defenders Connor Roberts and Ben Cabango were already injured and midfielder Harry Wilson is suspended.
“We’re without big players, but it gives others an opportunity to step up to the plate,” said boss Robert Page.
In the absence of so many first-team players, a shadow Wales side showed promise in Wednesday’s goalless friendly draw with Finland.
“We all want to play in World Cup qualifiers, we all want to play in a World Cup,”
“They want to be a part of that so they know any given opportunity to wear that shirt,
it’s not just that game, it’s playing to impress the coaching staff, the manager, the fans, and to create a problem.
“There were some great performances the other night so when it comes to,
picking squads for future matches, some have stood up and made me take count.”
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Wales have grown used to coping with players withdrawing from squads, but the past week has been on a different scale altogether.
When Page named his 28-man squad, only Roberts and Cabango were missing from the group of 26 selected for Euro 2020 this summer.
But then Ramsey, Joe Rodon, David Brooks, Neco Williams and George Thomas all pulled out because of injury.
Goalkeeper Adam Davies later withdrew after testing positive for coronavirus and,
striker Moore soon followed after being identified as a close contact.
Brandon Cooper was among the replacements called up but, along with,
Ethan Ampadu and Tyler Roberts, he will miss the Belarus game because of visa issues.
The match was switched to Kazan in Russia as teams from the United Kingdom and the,
European Union cannot enter Belarus by air because of sanctions against the country’s government.
The Football Association of Wales says Cooper, Ampadu and Roberts were unable,
to get Russian visa approval in time before travelling to Finland for last Wednesday’s friendly.
“When I said it was a nightmare logistically, that was pre-camp. Now we’ve been on camp it’s gone really well,” said Page.
“We had a positive performance the other day. The average age was 22, which is great,
for Welsh football and what we’ve got coming through so there were lots of,
positives to come from that game – a worthwhile exercise.
“We’ve decided to stay in Finland, which was the right thing to do before flying off to Russia.
Other than the stuff we had to do pre-camp, it’s been a really good camp.”
Wales are third in their World Cup qualifying group, but have played two games,
fewer than leaders Belgium and second-placed nation the Czech Republic.
Page’s side started their campaign with defeat in Belgium before beating the Czech Republic in Cardiff.
Only the group winners qualify automatically for the World Cup – a competition last graced by Wales in 1958 – while the runners-up enter the play-offs.
Realistically, Wales need to beat Belarus in Kazan on Sunday and Estonia at,
Cardiff City Stadium on Wednesday to have any chance of topping the group.
“I think they’re two winnable games, but having watched them [Belarus] play against,
the Czech Republic the other night, we’ve got to show them the respect they deserve,” said Page.
“After their [8-0] hiding against Belgium in March, the new manager [Georgi Kondratiev] has come in and completely changed the style.
“We’ve got nothing but respect for the Belarusian team and we’re going to go all out to win. On paper, these are two games that we want to win.”