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Rob Page welcomes breather for Brennan Johnson ahead of Wales’ Euro 2024 qualifiers

14 Jun 2023 3 minute read
Wales’ Brennan Johnson celebrates scoring. Picture by David Davies / PA Wire

Wales boss Rob Page has welcomed Brennan Johnson getting a late-season breather at Nottingham Forest ahead of Euro 2024 qualifying duty.

Johnson has made over 50 appearances for the third successive season, featuring in every one of Forest’s 38 Premier League games as Steve Cooper’s side secured their top-flight status.

But the 22-year-old forward appeared jaded in the closing weeks of the campaign and was dropped to the bench for two of Forest’s final three games.

“You have to manage the pressure on your players and it’s probably not the worst thing that he’s found himself out of the team for the last few games,” Page said ahead of Wales’ Euro 2024 home qualifier against Armenia on Friday.

“Because he scored so many goals, and because he is a constant threat – one of the best counter-attacking footballers in the Premier League – he set a precedent.

“But you can get a level of inconsistency of performance with your players and it certainly won’t have harmed him in any way to have missed a few games at Forest.

“He has to manage that when he gets a little dip in form.”

Key player

Johnson scored eight goals in his first Premier League campaign and is a key player for Wales following Gareth Bale’s retirement in January.

He missed the start of the qualifying campaign in March through injury and was the subject of a club-versus-country row, with Page suggesting Forest had not done enough to get Johnson fit for international duty.

“You are always going to miss your best players, but we had to ask others to step up to the plate and the two performances against Croatia and Latvia were outstanding,” said Page, whose squad have been together at a Portugal training camp.

“To finish off the Latvia game with the highest percentage possession we’ve had in the last five years shows we’ve got rid of the disappointment of the World Cup.

“The players are embracing what we’re asking them to do moving forward and it suits the players. They also enjoy playing that way.”

Page admits Wales need to sharpen their attacking play for a double-header with Armenia and Turkey after opening up in March with a 1-1 draw in Croatia and a 1-0 home victory over Latvia.

He said: “While I was happy with the Latvia performance and how we controlled the game, that final detail at the top of the pitch is where we need to improve.

“Having Brennan back fit, and Daniel James, Harry Wilson and David Brooks available is only going to help us achieve that.

“With the personnel we’ve got, we can have two or three different formations without any problem.

“The game plan might change within a game, but having players like Brennan will give us the opportunity to get higher up the pitch and score more goals.

“We’ve got some good players and the problem now is finding out how to get them all into the same team.”

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