Brennan Johnson not feeling any pressure despite future of Welsh football tag

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Brennan Johnson says he feels no pressure after being described by Wales manager Robert Page as the “future of Welsh football”.

Page bestowed the tag on the 21-year-old Nottingham Forest forward before he scored his first international goal in Saturday’s 1-1 Nations League draw against Belgium.

Johnson has yet to establish himself as a regular starter in Page’s World Cup-bound team.

But, after a 19-goal season that helped hometown club Forest into the Premier League and breaking his Wales scoring duck, Johnson’s star is in the ascendancy ahead of the Qatar finals this November.

Asked about the label that Page put on him last month, Johnson said: “It’s not just me. There are loads of young players.

“Neco Williams has played loads of games already. Ethan Ampadu has loads of caps, and there’s Joe Rodon who is a little bit older, but still classed as a young player.

“There are loads of us who have all been on this journey together.

“So, it makes it a lot easier than if it was just one person having all the pressure on them.

“It’s great to be part of this up-and-coming squad and I can’t wait to keep playing with them.”

Johnson has hailed the “massive” influence that Wales captain Gareth Bale has had on him, particularly as they are both attackers with similar games.

He described the wait for his first Wales goal as “horrible”, his composed finish was originally flagged for offside but stood after a lengthy VAR check.

Wales v Ukraine – FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifier – Play Off – Final – Cardiff City Stadium
Wales manager Robert Page says he is excited by the prospect of Brennan Johnson playing in the Premier League next season (David Davies/PA)

Johnson is expected to play his 64th game of the season against Holland in Rotterdam on Tuesday.

He will then have a short summer break before focusing on the Premier League and Wales’ first World Cup in 64 years.

Johnson said: “It still doesn’t feel real, especially when I think where I was at the start of the season. Coming back from League One (Lincoln loan spell), I definitely didn’t expect all this.

“The last couple of weeks have been unbelievable for me, especially being in this camp.

“Qualifying for the World Cup has been an incredible achievement. Just getting my first goal just tops it all.

“For everyone – whether they are playing in the Premier League or the Championship, or abroad – playing against the best players brings out the best in you.

“That’s the level where everyone wants to be, especially for me, playing in the Premier League next season.

“That’s where most of these players play. So I’m going to have to get used to playing against good defenders and playing against really good teams.”

Chris Mepham, meanwhile, has described the lift Wales received from his Bournemouth team-mate David Brooks being in the dressing room ahead of the World Cup play-off final victory over Ukraine.

AFC Bournemouth v Nottingham Forest – Sky Bet Championship – Vitality Stadium
David Brooks joined the Wales camp for the World Cup play-off final game against Ukraine after undergoing cancer treatment (John Walton/PA)

Brooks was diagnosed with stage two Hodgkin lymphoma in October, but the 24-year-old said last month he had received the all clear after treatment.

Mepham said: “It was massive. I kept messaging him to see if he was coming to camp.

“He lifts the place with his story and what he has gone through. It really does put things into perspective.

“It certainly did that. As a team it’s amazing that we can give him something like that to look forward to.

“I think it’s a realistic aim for him to have in his head to get back for the World Cup. Hopefully he can showcase himself at that level again.”

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