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5 talking points ahead of Wales’ World Cup qualifier with the Czech Republic

Wales v Mexico – International Friendly – Cardiff City Stadium
(Image credit: David Davies)

Wales welcome the Czech Republic to Cardiff for their second 2022 World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.

Robert Page’s side already have ground to make up after losing their opener in Belgium and the Czechs taking four points from two games.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the main talking points surrounding the Group E clash.

Wales woe

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Hal Robson-Kanu, Rabbi Matondo and Tyler Roberts were sent home on Monday for breaching Football Association of Wales protocol. Leeds striker Roberts later apologised on social media – in a post which has since been deleted – for staying up too late and breaking a curfew at the team hotel. It was the last thing caretaker boss Robert Page needed with manager Ryan Giggs still absent due to assault allegations, which he denies, with the Wales squad appearing to lurch from one crisis to the next.

Bale drought

Wales v Bulgaria – UEFA Nations League – Group 4 – League B – Cardiff City Stadium

Wales’ record goalscorer Gareth Bale has not scored for his country since October 2019 (David Davies/PA)

Gareth Bale was Wales’ talisman on their Euro 2016 adventure. Bale scored seven goals in qualifying as Wales ended a 58-year wait to play at a major tournament before he joined a select band of players to register in every European Championship group game. But it is nearly 18 months since Wales’ record scorer netted his last international goal, his 33rd, in a 1-1 draw against Croatia. Including his 10-minute cameo in Saturday’s 1-0 friendly victory over Mexico, Bale has now gone eight games without scoring.

Moore or less

Slovakia v Wales – UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying – Group E – Anton Malatinsky Stadium

Kieffer Moore scored his fifth Wales goal against Mexico on Saturday (Tim Goode/PA)

Kieffer Moore’s emergence in the last 18 months has lifted the scoring burden off Bale to an extent. The 6ft 5in Cardiff centre-forward has adapted superbly to international football and his weekend winner against Mexico was his fifth goal in 14 Wales appearances. But Moore has not started any of Wales’ last four competitive games, with caretaker boss Page branding the main striker’s role as a “horses for courses” policy. Moore has been used from the bench in recent competitive outings, but it would be a big call to keep him there against the physical Czechs.

Soucek danger

Crystal Palace v West Ham United – Premier League – Selhurst Park

West Ham’s Tomas Soucek is a huge goalscoring threat for the Czech Republic (Steven Paston/PA)

The presence of West Ham’s Tomas Soucek in the Czech Republic midfield spells big danger for Wales. Soucek has nine goals in the Premier League this season and taken that scoring form on to the international stage. The 26-year-old captained his country for the first time against Estonia last week and promptly bagged a hat-trick in a 6-2 World Cup qualifying victory. Wales will be aware of Soucek’s huge aerial threat and that could be another factor in Moore, who is effective in both boxes, getting the nod to start.

Czech-ing in

Rangers v Slavia Prague – UEFA Europa League – Round of Sixteen – Second Leg – Ibrox Stadium

Czech Republic’s Ondrej Kudela (right) is back in the UK with his national team after being accused of racially abusing Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara earlier this month (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Czech defender Ondrej Kudela has raised eyebrows by travelling to Wales after all. Kudela was accused of racially abusing Glen Kamara when Slavia Prague beat Rangers at Ibrox in Europa League action on March 18. Kamara had to be held back by team-mates as he reacted with fury when Kudela wandered alongside him late in the game, cupping his hand before allegedly whispering a discriminatory slur. Slavia had refused to release Kudela last week, citing safety fears for the player if he returned to the UK.