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Wales keeper Danny Ward to miss World Cup play-off with Austria

Wales v Belgium – FIFA World Cup 2022 – European Qualifying – Group E – Cardiff City Stadium
(Image credit: David Davies)

Leicester goalkeeper Danny Ward has been ruled out of Wales’ World Cup play-off against Austria after undergoing knee surgery.

Ward played at Euro 2020 last summer and is Wales’ first-choice keeper after ousting long-time number one Wayne Hennessey.

“It’s really unfortunate,” Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers said of Ward ahead of the Foxes’ Europa Conference League tie in Rennes.

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“He has had the injury for a while and it was a clean-up operation on his meniscus.

“So he’s out for a number of weeks. He will be back towards the end of the season.

“It’s something he’s tried to play through. He couldn’t carry on and that’s why you’ve not seen him.”

Hennessey is now set to win his 99th cap against Austria at the Cardiff City Stadium on March 24.

The Burnley veteran could become the third Welshman to the 100 caps landmark when Wales play Sweden, the Czech Republic or Scotland in a friendly at the same venue five days later.

Danny Ward

Danny Ward in action for Wales at Euro 2020 (Massimo Insabato/PA).

Strikers Kieffer Moore and Tyler Roberts miss out through respective foot and hamstring injuries.

St Pauli defender James Lawrence is also absent with a thigh problem.

Schalke winger Rabbi Matondo returns to a 26-man squad after showing impressive form for loan club Cercle Brugge in Belgium.

It is the first time Matondo has been named in a senior squad since breaching Football Association of Wales protocol and being sent home following a World Cup qualifier against the Czech Republic 12 months ago.

Robert Page

Robert Page named a 26-man squad on Wednesday (Nick Potts/PA).

Star men Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey both feature despite recent injury concerns and limited game time respectively at Real Madrid and Rangers.

Skipper Bale became the second Welshman to win 100 caps against Belarus in November, but the 32-year-old’s season has been severely disrupted by injury.

Bale has only featured twice for Real since the end of August, with his only start coming against Villarreal in LaLiga last month.

Wales v USA – International Friendly – Liberty Stadium

Rabbi Matondo has been recalled to the Wales squad after a 12-month absence (David Davies/PA)

Midfielder Ramsey has started only two games for Rangers – both in the Scottish Cup – since joining the Glasgow giants on loan from Juventus in January.

With the second game on March 29 in mind, Portsmouth midfielder Joe Morrell has been named in the squad despite being suspended for the Austria tie.

The winners of the Wales-Austria tie will play either Scotland or Ukraine in September to determine a place at the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar.

Squad: W Hennessey (Burnley), A Davies (Stoke), T King (Salford), C Gunter (Charlton), B Davies (Tottenham), C Roberts (Burnley), C Mepham (Bournemouth), J Rodon (Tottenham), B Cabango (Swansea), N Williams (Fulham, on loan from Liverpool), R Norrington-Davies (Sheff Utd), E Ampadu (Venezia, on loan from Chelsea), J Allen (Stoke), J Morrell (Portsmouth), W Vaulks (Cardiff), D Levitt (Dundee Utd, on loan from Man Utd), A Ramsey (Rangers, on loan from Juventus), J Williams (Swindon), H Wilson (Fulham), S Thomas (Huddersfield), R Colwill (Cardiff), B Johnson (Nottingham Forest), D James (Leeds), G Bale (Real Madrid), M Harris (Cardiff), R Matondo (Cercle Brugge, on loan from Schalke 04).

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