Joe Morrell calls for ruthlessness as Wales look to back up draw with Croatia
JOE Morrell says Wales must be “ruthless and relentless” against Latvia on Tuesday to build on their promising start to Euro 2024 qualification.
Wales held World Cup semi-finalists Croatia to a 1-1 draw on Saturday as substitute Nathan Broadhead marked his debut with a dramatic last-gasp equaliser.
It was a bonus point for Rob Page’s Wales, who are adapting to life without former talisman Gareth Bale and were missing vice-captain Ben Davies and Brennan Johnson through injury in Split.
But Morrell insists the result will not matter unless Wales beat Latvia – who are ranked a lowly 133rd in world football – at Cardiff City Stadium.
He said: “I don’t think many people would have had us down to get anything from Croatia and it’s imperative we back it up now.
“We know this means nothing if we don’t back it up on Tuesday or beyond that.
“The intention now is to be ruthless and relentless and keep our foot on the gas.”
Wales’ next two games, at home to Latvia and then Armenia in June, are against the weakest teams in the group on paper.
Two wins would put Wales in a healthy position before a trip to Turkey on June 19, but Portsmouth midfielder Morrell knows the danger of looking too far ahead.
“We’ve seen it before,” he said. “We dropped points against Estonia in the last (World Cup) qualifying campaign at home and made it more difficult than we would have liked (to qualify).
“We’re not new to these types of teams who want to come and sit behind the ball, similar to what we did in Croatia.
“We know Latvia will defend deep and give us a lot of the ball and it’s how we find solutions.
“One of the first things the manager said when he came in the changing room was ‘Enjoy this but make sure we’re ready to go on Tuesday because it would be such a shame to let this go to waste’.
“That’s our intention now, to recover well and put ourselves in the best position for Tuesday.”
Despite there being much pre-match focus on this being a new era for Welsh football without Bale and others such as Joe Allen who have retired from international football, Page selected 11 players who had featured at the World Cup.
Six uncapped players were on the bench, however, with Broadhead and Birmingham midfielder Jordan James making debuts.
Morrell said: “We know the quality and the strength in depth we’ve got in this squad.
“The starting 11 out there had a lot of caps, I don’t think anyone was under 25 caps, but to bring players off the bench like we did didn’t really impact us too much.
“We still had threats on the pitch and we showed that with the goal.
“You’re never going to replace Gareth Bale, it’s pointless trying as he’s been one of the best British players of all time. It’s about being different and being a complete team.”