Wales manager Rob Page has refused to rule out starting veteran duo Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey on the bench against England on Tuesday.
Skipper Bale and Ramsey have been Wales’ best players over the last decade or so and guided the country to the last two European Championships and the 2022 World Cup.
But both players – Bale is 33 and Ramsey 31 – have been way below their best in Qatar, leaving some Wales fans to call for the pair to be benched with Page’s side on the brink of World Cup elimination.
Manager Page said: “It’s a big ask for anybody in this environment to go four days later.
“I’m going to pick a team that I think can go out and compete against England, whether that’s with or without them. I’m not going to give that away.
“If they don’t start, can they can make an impact? That’s always been my dilemma playing games in quick succession.
“If they start one game, can they start the next? My thought process won’t be any different.
“Whether they come on and have an impact or start and last an hour or 90 minutes, they are talented footballers.
“We’re all getting criticism now and rightly so because results aren’t going our way and that’s the industry we’re in.
“We’re big enough to take it – it’s not a problem. We put our big boy pants on and get on with it.”
Wales would secure a round of 16 place by beating England by a four-goal margin, something they have never achieved in 103 games between the two countries.
Any win would put Wales into the knockout phase as long as Iran and the United States draw the other game in the group.
Page said: “We’ve worked so hard to get into this position. My frustration and disappointment for the players is that we’ve shown nowhere near the levels of performance that have got us to this World Cup.
“We’ve picked them up, we’ve addressed it, we’ve got to draw a line under it, the last performance.
“Irrespective of the other result, whether we go home or whether we go through, we have to give a performance that our supporters can be proud of.
“We want to react in a positive manner and I’ll pick a team that’ll go out and give everything to the cause.”
Wales have not beaten England since Mark Hughes secured a 1-0 win in the 1984 British Home Championship.
Page said: “We don’t look back at stats like that. We don’t need that as motivation to win this game.
“We are hurting as a group because we know we’re better than what we’re showing. That is the motivation we need at the minute.
“It just so happens to be that it’s England we’re playing against. We’ll pick a team that will be ready and we’ll have a go.”
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