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Page backs new Welsh stars to shine in post-Bale era

<a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/soccer/teams/wales/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Wales;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Wales</a> manager Rob Page is hoping to lead his nation to a third consecutive European Championship (Adrian DENNIS)
Wales manager Rob Page is hoping to lead his nation to a third consecutive European Championship (Adrian DENNIS)

Wales manager Rob Page is backing a new crop of attacking talent to step into the breach left by Gareth Bale's retirement and lead their nation to Euro 2024.

Page's men host Finland in a playoff semi-final in Cardiff on Thursday with the prize on offer for the winners another home draw against either Poland or Estonia on March 26.

Bale retired from football last year after leading Wales to their first World Cup since 1958.

The former Real Madrid star also shone as Wales reached the knockout stages of each of the last two European Championships, including a remarkable run to the 2016 semi-finals.

"We have lost one of the world's best players with Gareth," Page said at his pre-match press conference on Wednesday.

"There has been enough in the squad to put us in a position where we are two wins away from qualifying for the fourth time (in the last five major tournaments).

"Of course he's going to be missed on and off the pitch but it gives others an opportunity."

Page is hoping the likes of Tottenham's Brennan Johnson, Birmingham teenager Jordan James and Fulham winger Harry Wilson, who scored twice in a 2-1 win over Croatia in October, can leave their own legacies on the international stage.

A rollercoaster qualifying campaign saw Wales take four points from World Cup semi-finalists Croatia but only one from two games against Armenia.

The Armenians' shock 4-2 win in Cardiff was the only time Wales have lost at home in their last 14 Euro qualifiers.

"The biggest learning curve for me over the last 12 months, irrespective of who we are playing against, is we have to bring our A-game," added Page.

"We have to deliver the same values that gets us success, then the results will take care of themselves.

"Our record at home is exceptional and we're in good form at this moment in time."

Finland are 60th in the FIFA world rankings -- 31 places below Wales.

But they have some inside information on the Welsh camp through Glen Kamara, who plays alongside Wales' Connor Roberts, Daniel James, Ethan Ampadu and Joe Rodon at Championship leaders Leeds United.

"Hopefully I can use all my information against them in a way to help us," said the Finland midfielder.

"I'm looking forward to playing against them, 2024 has been good to us all as we're in good form at Leeds."

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