Rob Page expects Wales to ‘put it right’ against Slovakia after Gibraltar draw

Rob Page says Wales will “move forward” from their Gibraltar draw against Slovakia on Sunday.

Page had to withstand boos and calls for him to quit from some Wales fans after Gibraltar – ranked 203 out of the 210 teams in world football – held the Dragons 0-0 in a friendly at the Estadio Algarve on Thursday.

The Wales manager fielded an inexperienced side in Portugal with a threadbare squad hit by a host of withdrawals and the sterner test against Slovakia to come.

Latvia v Wales – UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifying – Group D – Skonto Stadium
Ethan Ampadu is set to captain Wales for the first time in Slovakia on Sunday (Tim Goode/PA)

Ethan Ampadu will return to captain Wales for the first time, while Danny Ward, Chris Mepham and Jordan James will also play after sitting out the Gibraltar game.

There should also be starts for Brennan Johnson, Daniel James and Kieffer Moore, who were introduced into the attack during the second half on Thursday.

Page said: “We were disappointed with the Gibraltar game but we must move forward.

“We’ll put it right and go again on Sunday. It’s another friendly and it is what it is from a selection point of view.

“The lads are on the back of three weeks off, so it was unrealistic to start with our strongest team for the two games.

“That’s the reason we picked that team to play Gibraltar because we want to expose some of the younger players to international football.”

Page gave five players – Charlie Crew, Fin Stevens, Jay Dasilva, Lewis Koumas and Tom King – their debuts against Gibraltar.

Liverpool teenager Koumas, who met the club’s record goalscorer and former Wales striker Ian Rush at their Portuguese training camp this week, came close to scoring after being sent on as a 73rd-minute substitute.

“The keeper’s made a great save from his left-footed shot and his work-rate off the ball was phenomenal,” said Page.

“So he’s done his chances no harm whatsoever.

“Both Lewis and Charlie have really impressed and I can see why they’re being spoken about in such a high manner at club level.

“Fin Stevens and Matty Baker have also stepped up. The new lads that we’ve brought in have adapted really easily.”

Having missed out on qualification for Euro 2024, the Slovakia friendly is Wales’ final outing before the Nations League campaign gets under way in September.

Wales are in the same League B group as Iceland, Montenegro and Turkey, with the competition having a partial bearing on qualification for the 2026 World Cup.

Page said: “The performances in the play-offs against Finland and Poland were exceptional, so I’m not going to get too carried away (with the Gibraltar result).

“We’re unbeaten since September. The form at the minute has been OK with regards to results.”