Joe Rodon admits he had to leave Tottenham to make the most of his World Cup dream with Wales.
Rodon has linked up with the Wales squad for Nations League games against Belgium and Poland this week for the first time as a Rennes player, having joined the Ligue 1 club last month on a season-long loan deal from Spurs.
Wales captain Gareth Bale, who was at Spurs with Rodon during the 2020-21 season, said in June that he felt his international team-mate “deserved” to be playing for Tottenham.
But the 24-year-old played more minutes for Wales than Spurs last season, and national team manager Robert Page had expressed his concern over the central defender’s lack of game time ahead of the World Cup in November.
Rodon said: “No player wants to be going to a World Cup having hardly played a minute of football.
“As everyone is aware, I haven’t played that much over the last two years. I think it was really important for me and my development to be exposed and be put in a position where I play a lot of games.
“That will improve me and give me more confidence.
“I can only feel thankful and grateful for the opportunity I have been given at Rennes. I’ll try and do myself proud by keep playing every week.”
Rodon has already played in nine out of Rennes’ first 10 matches so far this season.
He has also gained Europa League experience against AEK Larnaca and Fenerbahce, and believes his move to France will stand him in good stead against Belgium in Brussels on Thursday.
“Every league has its different challenges,” Rodon said.
“I feel it’s a very good league. It’s very physical, but with a lot of good, technical players as well.
“There is a good balance in there and it’s up to me to adapt and improve my game.
“I’ve loved playing more games building up to this camp, it’s something I’ve missed. I want to continue doing it until I finish.”
Wales are battling to stay in the top tier of the Nations League having only picked up one point from four matches.
— Wales 🏴 (@Cymru) September 20, 2022
That point came in a 1-1 draw at home to Belgium in June when Brennan Johnson scored a late equaliser.
Even if Wales lose in Belgium, and depending on results elsewhere, the Dragons could avoid relegation from League A by beating Poland in their final group fixture in Cardiff on Sunday.
Rodon said: “It’s the last camp before the World Cup, and, of course, we’ve got two hard and important games to play.
“We can’t really look past that, we know there’s a job to be done.
“All we can do is focus on Thursday, then Sunday, and then look forward to the World Cup.”