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Rob Page needs a result – Wales v Slovakia talking points

08 Jun 2024 3 minute read
Wales Manager, Robert Page. Photo Zac Goodwin/PA Wire.

Phil Blanche

Wales meet Euro 2024-bound Slovakia in a friendly at the Anton Malatinsky Stadium in Trnava on Sunday night.

Here the PA’s Phil Blanche looks at the key talking points ahead of the fixture.

Page in firing line

Wales manager Rob Page had to run the gauntlet of angry fans following Thursday’s goalless draw against Gibraltar, opponents ranked 203 out of 210 teams in world football.

Page was jeered at the final whistle with calls for him to quit, and the 49-year-old has been pilloried on social media. Page was backed by Football Association of Wales bosses after the Euro 2024 play-off final defeat to Poland on penalties in March.

He has two years left on his contract, but a positive result in Slovakia would do him no harm ahead of Nations League games in September.

Young Dragons

Wales’ starting line-up against Gibraltar had a combined total of only 44 caps as Page blooded several youngsters on the international scene. Five players made debuts and, with so many senior figures unavailable for the two June friendlies, some of them could get another opportunity in Slovakia.

Liverpool striker Lewis Koumas came off the bench on Thursday to win his first cap and the 18-year-old almost got on the scoresheet within minutes. Coventry left-back Jay Dasilva was another to impress and will hope to get more minutes.

Armband for Ampadu

Ethan Ampadu is expected to lead Wales with Aaron Ramsey, Ben Davies and Joe Rodon all sidelined by injury. Ampadu did not feature against Gibraltar with Slovakia in mind and his return alongside Jordan James in midfield provides a huge boost for Wales.

The 23-year-old already has 51 caps to his name and has shown his leadership skills by wearing the armband at Leeds this season. It will not be the last time Ampadu captains his country.

Moore of the same?

Kieffer Moore has good reason to recall the Anton Malatinsky Stadium. Moore marked his first competitive appearance for Wales in October 2019 by scoring in a European Championship qualifier at Trnava. The game finished 1-1 and the Bournemouth striker’s header was instrumental to Wales qualifying for Euro 2020.

Moore was held back against Gibraltar until the final half-hour and his presence will be important as Wales seek to end their season on a high.

Happy memories

Playing Slovakia brings back great memories for Wales fans: a sun-kissed afternoon in Bordeaux and the start of an extraordinary Euro 2016 journey in France.

Gareth Bale’s swerving free-kick and Hal Robson-Kanu’s late winner saw Wales home 2-1 as Chris Coleman’s side began their run to the semi-finals.

Should Wales be seeking more inspiration on Sunday they can take heart from their record against Slovakia. Wales have won three of the five fixtures, with Slovakia’s solitary success coming in the maiden 2006 meeting.

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