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International Friendly Wales v Mexico : Saturday latest
Saturday, 27th Mar 2021 09:11 by David Cornish

After a decent performance in Belgium on Wednesday night Wales return home to play a friendly, for whatever reason, against Mexico. With the Czech Republic World Cup qualifiers on the horizon we expect this game to see an experimental side picked. Swansea City products Ben Cabango and Brandon Cooper should see some game time, and we all hope that Conner Roberts is rested.

Swansea City defender Brandon Cooper has been called into the Wales senior squad for the first time ahead of their fixtures against Mexico and the Czech Republic. The centre-half - who is back with the Swans after an excellent loan spell with Newport County - had originally been selected in the Wales Under-21 squad for their meeting with the Republic of Ireland. But with Ben Davies and Tom Lockyer being forced to withdraw through injury, Cooper has been added to Robeat Page's squad and took part in training on Thursday.

Happy days for Swansea academy product Brandon Cooper

This friendly with Mexico is awkwardly placed between two key qualifiers, meaning that Rob era Page - in caretaker charge for a fifth game as Ryan Giggs remains under investigation due to an allegation of assault - will name a more thoughtful side it is hoped. We say hopefully as his managerial experience is limited to Port Vale and Northampton, hardly fitting. He has already openly displayed and been criticised for his inability to communicate and understand the worth of good relationships with the clubs players are selected from.

Another Swansea academy product Conner Roberts is due a rest as well

Mexico will be using their two March friendlies, against Wales and Costa Rica, as a chance to get their players back up to speed ahead of the resumption of the CONCACAF Nations League in June. The Tricolor beat South Korea and Japan in November friendlies to make it 10 matches without defeat since September 2019, winning all but one of those. Gerard Martino has named a 26-man squad for the clash with Wales in Cardiff and Costa Rica in Wiener Neustadt, which includes Efrain Alvarez for the first time, ending any hope the United States had of making the Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder one of their own. Like Wales, Mexico have bigger priorities this year than friendlies, but Martino can at least name a strong lineup knowing that his side do not have a competitive game this window.
This will be just the fifth ever encounter between the sides, the most recent of those finishing in a 0-0 draw in Los Angeles a little under three years ago. Mexico have yet to taste defeat to Wales, with two wins and two draws from those four previous meetings.

Team News
Wales lost Aaron Ramsey, Tom Lockyer and Swansea academy product Ben Davies to injuries from their initial 31-man squad for this month's fixtures, while another Swansea academy product Joe Allen limped off against Belgium just eight minutes into his first international appearance since 2019. Page will give a number of his fringe players a chance to impress ahead of the Czech Republic game, with Chris Gunter one of those certain to come into the side for what will be his landmark 100th international cap. Rhys Norrington-Davies and Joe Morrell were the two players to drop out of the Wales XI between November's win against Finland and Wednesday's loss to Belgium, and one or both players could come back into the side here.

Swansea academy products Joe Allen & Ben Davies both injured and won’t feature

Striker Kieffer Moore was surprisingly benched against Belgium, which Page put down to the striker being tired, so it is unlikely that he will start this one either. So why bother picking him ? Joe Rodon hasn’t seen a lot of game time since he moved fromSwansea to Spurs so he should be selected. As for Mexico, Martino will be looking to use as many of his 26 players as possible over the next week. Raul Jimenez will play no part in either friendly, though, as he continues to recover from a head injury sustained for Wolverhampton Wanderers in November.

Saturday Latest

Wales are set to be without Joe Allen after the midfielder limped out of the World Cup qualifier with Belgium on Wednesday night. James Lawrence is similarly ruled out due to Covid-19 protocols back in Germany, while Swansea City youngster Brandon Cooper has been called in as cover.

Rob Page is set to give a run out to a number of his fringe players for this meeting with the Mexicans, with veteran Chris Gunter set to captain the side on his 100th cap. Injured trio Aaron Ramsey, Tom Lockyer and Ben Davies all remain out of contention. Meanwhile, Mexico's most notable absentee will be Wolves striker Raul Jimenez, who's continuing to recover from a head injury picked up for his club back in November. Inter Milan forward Hirving Lozano may well end up leading the line for Gerardo Martino's men.

Rob Page: "We've lost Joe, which is a shame. It is a big loss for us. "He'll go back to his club and they'll do more assessments, so they'll know exactly where they are with him with regards to timescale."It gives somebody else an opportunity to step up and do well [for Wales].

Yet another Swansea academy product Joe Rodon may feature on Saturday evening

We will leave you with Ben, you guessed it, another Swansea academy product

Click here for the match day thread on Swansea Independent

The game will be played in Wales, Kick off 8pm on Saturday 27th March.
Screened LIVE on S4C, and also available on BBC Radio Wales. BBC Radio Cymru.

We will be updating our news stories for this game as matters progress.

For Ben Davies & Joe Allen : Huw Evans Picture Agency

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