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Wales boss Robert Page calls for 26-man World Cup squads

Wales v Netherlands – UEFA Nations League – Group A4 – Cardiff City Stadium
(Image credit: Zac Goodwin)

Wales manager Robert Page wants to see an increase in World Cup squad size from 23 to 26 players.

Wales head to Qatar in November – when average temperatures are 29C – after qualifying for a first World Cup since 1958.

Squads for last year’s European Championship, which Wales played in, were capped at 26. That allowed three additional squad places, and Page would like a repeat.

While there has been no official approach from the Football Association of Wales to FIFA, Page said: “Of course I am (pushing for it).

“With demands on the players, I would like a 26-man squad, absolutely. I am just voicing my opinion at the moment.

“I think we will speak with administrators now and see how we can approach that.

“I supported it last year, I thought it was absolutely the right thing to do to go to 26, and I would like it again.

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“Ultimately, the demands in those conditions with the group that we’ve got, we just need those extra bodies around us, so for me I would like 26.”

Page, whose team face a Nations League clash against Holland in Rotterdam on Tuesday, plans a trip to Qatar in the next couple of weeks to assess facilities.

In the meantime, Wales head to Holland for what will be their fifth game in 13 days – four Nations League fixtures and a World Cup play-off final victory over Ukraine.

“It’s bonkers. We’ve got four tough games anyway, but (then) throw a final in the mix off the back of a long season,” Page said.

Brennan Johnson

Brennan Johnson celebrates after scoring Wales’ equaliser against Belgium (David Davies/PA)

“A lot of our players are from the Championship as well, which is a demanding division to play in.

“It has caught up with us, so there are no surprises we have picked up a few knocks.

“Having said that, this has probably been the most positive camp that we’ve had.

“Our objective coming into camp was ‘can we qualify for the World Cup?’ and we ticked that box, then I wanted to expose some of the younger players to top opposition in European football, and we’ve done that.”

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Page will be without a number of players against the Dutch, with midfielder Joe Allen joining that list because of a hamstring injury.

Allen is currently in contract renewal talks with Stoke, although other suitors are believed to include his former club Swansea.

“We’ve got Rhys (Norrington-Davies) suspended, Danny Ward with his knee, Joe Morrell a broken toe, Neco (Williams) is not fit, so he won’t travel, and Joe had to come off against Belgium and is having a scan today,” Page said.

“But even without seeing the outcome of that, it’s not worth risking him. Get himself sorted out from a club point of view, have a good pre-season and make sure he is ready for September.

Joe Allen

Joe Allen (left) remains a key player for Wales manager Robert Page (David Davies/PA)

“Joe is a massive asset for us. What he has done for Welsh football over the years is incredible.

“He is still a massive part for me moving forward, and he 100 per cent will be in my World Cup squad, there is no doubt.

“It is getting him in the place now to go out and enjoy his football, wherever that may be.”

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