Wales boss banishes talk of play-off reprieve as he eyes final group chance
By ROB COLE
dmg media (UK)
WALES boss Rob Page has banned talk of a second chance for his side to qualify for the Euro finals in Germany next year via the play-offs as they prepare for a vital game against Turkey. The Group D leaders arrived in the Welsh capital needing to take at least a point from the last round of matches to secure top seeding. The maths for Wales is simple. They have to win and hope that Armenia, who held Page’s men to a 1-1 draw in Yerevan last weekend, can avoid defeat against Croatia. If Wales fail to qualify through their group they will then have a back door route via a fourteam play-off earned through their Nations League results. But Page said: ‘We’re having no talk of play-offs. If we’re talking play-offs, we may as well call the game off on Tuesday. ‘We knew that the play-offs would be a talking point because of the disappointment of the result in Armenia. ‘But we’re not thinking of the play-offs because, if we win, we can qualify if the other result goes our way. ‘What I don’t want is to walk off at the end of the game having had one eye on the play-offs, then find the result has gone for us in the other game and we could have taken charge of it.’ Wales will be without Bournemouth defender Chris Mepham, who is suspended, and Page hasn’t ruled out making changes as he seeks a return to the heights of the victory over the Croatians. Luton Town skipper Tom Lockyer is poised to replace Mepham at the back, with Dan James and Brennan Johnson in line for a recall to the starting line-up. ‘It’s about giving all we’ve got in one last game and hoping things go our way,’ said Wales skipper Ben Davies. ‘Playing in major tournaments for your country is the pinnacle and that dream is still there. ‘We’ve probably punched above our weight for a long time. When you do that, people expect more out of you. ‘We’re still in with a shout of qualification, it isn’t all doom and gloom just yet. We’re not panicking, we have a chance.’ Kick-off: 7.45pm, Cardiff City Stadium. LIVE on Viaplay Sports 1 and S4C.