Rob Page says he might "freshen up" Wales team for do-or-die England clash

Rob Page Iran
(Image credit: Getty)

Rob Page says he may make changes for Wales' final group game against England - believing that some players have suffered at the World Cup due to a lack of regular game time at club level.  

After Wayne Hennessey's red card, two stoppage-time goals consigned Wales to defeat against Iran to leave their chances of making the last 16 hanging by a thread, after a 1-1 draw with the USA in their opening match. 

Star men Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey have both struggled to make an impact in general play during the tournament, having been among those who haven't played regularly at club level for a lengthy period of time.

While unwilling to discuss the duo's performance specifically, Page did suggest that he may need to freshen up his line-up for Wales' third fixture against England on Tuesday, which the Dragons now need to win, and rely on results elsewhere, to have any chance of progression in the tournament

"That's the problem you always have - asking players who are not playing at their clubs to give performance after performance," he said. "So we are going to have to look at it and, if necessary, make changes to freshen it up.

"Iran deserved to win - they hit the post, they had a goal disallowed in the first half, so I'm not going to sit here with sour grapes and say we deserved anything from the game.

"We weren't in the game at all. You can carry one or two having off days, but when the majority of the team are having that, there's only going to be one outcome unfortunately.

"I'm disappointed because we fell well below the standards we've set over recent months, to qualify for the World Cup. If we'd met those standards, we would have been all right, but we fell well below that today and when you do that in top competitions, you get punished.

"We're low at the moment, but we'll get them back up tomorrow and prepare for them for another tough game to finish with.

"We want to give our supporters something to cheer about - they've shown massive commitment to come over here, and it really disappoints me that we've given that performance for them today."

Iran boss Carlos Queiroz praised both sets of fans for the atmosphere they created inside the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium - saying that his side's victory was to a gift to all Iranians.

The country is currently in political turmoil, with widespread protests on the streets - Queiroz felt that situation affected his players' concentration during their opening World Cup match, a humbling 6-2 defeat to England, particularly after his squad were frequently asked by the media about their political views before the game.

Queiroz was proud though, of the way they responded against Wales. "Today we played with amazing character," he said.

"I told the players that football is a game where sometimes it's not because you win or don't win, but sometimes you lose your dignity, you lose your honour. Of course, after the first game, we were bleeding in our pride.

"This was an opportunity to rebound and we found a strong scarf to stop the bleeding and get back to credibility, showing the football that we have inside our souls and our minds. "Put all the garbage things outside of our minds and focus on the game. We want to give this gift to all the Iranian fans, from north, south, east, west - this is a gift to all of them.

"I think it was a fair result, but Wales have a brilliant team - and I'd like to complement not only the Welsh team but also the crowd, both sets of fans.

"The Red Wall are always amazing, the way they support the team. Also our fans, we need to congratulate them. There was joy, there was drama - I love this game when it's like that."

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Chris Flanagan
Senior Staff Writer

Chris joined FourFourTwo in 2015 and has reported from 20 countries, in places as varied as Jerusalem and the Arctic Circle. He's interviewed Pele, Zlatan and Santa Claus (it's a long story), as well as covering the World Cup, Euro 2020 and the Clasico. He previously spent 10 years as a newspaper journalist, and completed the 92 in 2017.