Wales happy to go under the radar at World Cup, says midfielder

Wales' Joe Morrell (left) and Poland's Robert Lewandowski in action during the UEFA Nations League Group A Match at Cardiff City Stadium, Wales. Picture date: Sunday September 25, 2022.
Wales' Joe Morrell (left) and Poland's Robert Lewandowski in action during the UEFA Nations League Group A Match at Cardiff City Stadium, Wales. Picture date: Sunday September 25, 2022.

Joe Morrell says Wales are happy for England to dominate the headlines in their World Cup group.

England’s shock relegation from the top tier of the Nations League piled the pressure on manager Gareth Southgate, who – speaking in the build-up to Monday night’s 3-3 draw with Germany – said the negativity around him was “not healthy” for the team.

Wales were also relegated from Group A on Sunday after losing 1-0 at home to Poland, yet Robert Page’s squad received a warm send-off from their fans ahead of the country’s first appearance at a World Cup since 1958.

The two British nations have been drawn in Group B in Qatar alongside the United States and Iran.

Portsmouth midfielder Morrell said: “It is an exciting group. I think the England game is seen as the big one.

“Everyone will talk about the game and it will take all the headlines because England always do.

“But we’re more than happy for that, for them to get the headlines, I’m sure it was the same in (Euro) 2016.

“All the papers will talk about them – and that suits us.

“Then it will be good to play against something a bit different in two non-European teams – a different style of football, certainly. With the staff, the analysts, we’ll know exactly what to expect.”

Wales start their campaign against the USA in Doha on November 21 before meeting Iran four days later.

England will be their final group opponents on November 29.

“That could work quite well,” Morrell said about playing England last in the group.

“But we’ve got three games and we might have to do well in all of them.

“We are going to need to get at least four points to go through. It probably worked quite well in the Euros to have Italy last.

“But if it comes down to needing something against England we’d be happy with that because, you know, they’re beatable.”

Wales head to the World Cup on the back of one win in eight games, albeit the crucial play-off final victory over Ukraine, and picked up only one point from six Nations League matches.

Morrell said: “If performances weren’t there, we’d be concerned.

“But we are going into it on the back of playing Poland, Holland and Belgium as opposed to Finland, Bulgaria and Ireland, who we played in our last campaign. It will stand us in good stead.

“Sometimes a bit of adversity going into the really big games, you need that. The good thing is we’ve got lads who’ve played tournament football.”