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Thirteen players out for today’s big game against Belarus
Sunday, 5th Sep 2021 09:00

Wales have been cut apart this morning as our national side take on Belarus in Russia later today. Thirteen players withdrawn, injured, Covid positive or without travel visas means Robert Page has a threadbare squad to choose from. The sanctions against Belarus meaning the game has had to be switched to Russia have gone against Wales more than the the Belarus national side.

To an extent you have to sympathise with Wales manger Robert Page who has been fighting against the ridiculous logistics that Wales have had to face in the Euro championships three months ago, and now the sanctions against Belarus have affected Wales more than their hosts.

Aaron Ramsey and Kieffer Moore are among seven players to pull out because of injury and Covid-19, while three more are absent because of visa issues. Defenders Connor Roberts and Swansea City’s Ben Cabango were already injured, and midfielder Harry Wilson is suspended. When Page named his 28-man squad, only Roberts, who is now a Burnley player, and Cabango were missing from the group of 26 selected for Euro 2020 this summer.

But then Ramsey, Ex swan Joe Rodon, David Brooks, Neco Williams and George Thomas all pulled out because of injury. Goalkeeper Adam Davies later withdrew after testing positive for coronavirus, and striker Moore soon followed after being identified as a close contact. Swansea City starlet Brandon Cooper was among the replacements called up but, along with Ethan Ampadu and Tyler Roberts, he will miss the Belarus game because of visa issues.

It is nowhere near ideal of course, but Wales will face a Belarus side that has performed pretty poorly in their first two World Cup qualifiers since March.

Robert Page said yesterday “We all want to play in World Cup qualifiers, we all want to play in a World Cup. They want to be a part of that so they know any given opportunity to wear that shirt, it's not just that game, it's playing to impress the coaching staff, the manager, the fans, and to create a problem. There were some great performances the other night against Finland so when it comes to picking squads for future matches, some have stood up and made me take count."

Wales will want to take the three points from this game having beaten the Czech Republic in their last game in Wales. The Czech’s take on Belgium later today as well, to take three points in Russia would keep Wales in touch with the Czech’s who are currently in second place in the qualifying table. Wales need Gareth Bale to step up in this game as he hasn’t scored for his country in twelve internationals.

Belarus v Wales Match facts

*Belarus and Wales last faced each other in a September 2019 friendly at Cardiff City Stadium, with Wales winning 1-0 thanks to a goal from Dan James.

*Wales have won four of their five games against Belarus in all competitions, with their only defeat coming the last time they faced them away from home in September 2000 in a World Cup qualifier, losing 2-1 in Minsk.

*Belarus - 4-2 winners over Estonia in March - are looking to win back-to-back home World Cup qualifying matches within the same campaign for the first time since March 2001, winning three in a row in a run that started with a home win over Wales.

*Wales have only won six of their past 29 away World Cup qualifiers (drawing eight and losing 15) and were beaten 3-1 by Belgium in their first away match of this qualifying campaign.

*Wales have failed to score in their past three matches in all competitions, their longest such run since September 2012 (four games).

*In all competitions, Wales have scored just nine goals in their past 16 away games, scoring more than once on just one occasion in that run.

*Harry Wilson's penalty miss against Finland last time out was the third consecutive penalty Wales have failed to convert in all competitions (excluding shootouts), in a run stretching back to 2017.

*Gareth Bale has not scored in any of his past 12 competitive appearances for Wales, but he has provided seven assists in that run.

Venue: Central Stadium, Kazan, Russia, Date: Sunday, 5 September Kick-off: 14:00 BST
LIVE a on S4C and Sky Sports Football

Photographs licensed from Reuters

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