Wales boss Rob Page defends Aaron Ramsey selection amid fitness issues

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Wales boss Rob Page insists Aaron Ramsey’s surprise selection for Euro 2024 play-off duty is not a risk.

Skipper Ramsey has not started a match for six months after suffering a knee injury.

The 84-times capped midfielder returned for Cardiff in February but made only two substitute appearances – playing a combined total of 72 minutes – before picking up a calf complaint.

Cardiff manager Erol Blut initially ruled Ramsey out of the play-offs, but the 33-year-old could now feature for his country.

“It’s not been ideal for Aaron, he’s had a few setbacks,” Page said after naming Ramsey in a 28-man squad for the play-off semi-final with Finland in Cardiff on March 21 and a potential home final against Estonia or Poland five days later.

“Sometimes injuries change from the first instance. They can change overnight, there can be a difference in diagnosis.

“If there’s a chance of having him involved in the squad I’m going to take it and name him.

“The last two camps we’ve had him in and around the squad, even though he’s not been able to play a part. To have someone of his stature in and around the players is beneficial for us.

“Irrespective of what happens at the weekend (when Cardiff play Swansea in the South Wales derby), he’s on the grass this week.

“His rehab back to full fitness has gone to plan and we’ll have eyes on him every day.

“If he has the potential to give us some minutes off the bench we will use him. He still has a lot to offer.”

Former captain Gareth Bale went into the 2022 World Cup with fitness issues hanging over him and struggled to make the impact in Qatar that had been expected of him.

But Page insists Ramsey’s inclusion is not a gamble as Wales attempt to qualify for a third successive European Championship and a fourth major tournament in five.

“We’ll get him on camp and assess him,” Page said.

“We’ve already had conversations with him. Our medical team are based in Hensol where Cardiff train, that’s the luxury we’ve had of being in the same vicinity.”

On the risk of rushing Ramsey back to playing, Page added: “Times have changed. We’re not where we were two or three years ago.

“You look at the quality of players we’ve got. The strength in depth we’ve got.

“When you now look at the other names in that squad, there’s a good selection headache for me to have.

“All the forwards we’ve picked are playing well and scoring goals, so it’s a good problem to have.”

Adam Davies, Charlie Savage, Dylan Levitt, Josh Low, Rabbi Matondo, Rubin Colwill and Wes Burns have been recalled to an enlarged squad.

Low replaces Tom Lockyer, who played in Wales’ last Euro 2024 qualifier against Turkey in November.

Luton defender Lockyer suffered a cardiac arrest in a Premier League game at Bournemouth in December.

Reading midfielder Savage and in-form Cardiff forward Colwill join Wycombe defender Low in being promoted from Matty Jones’ under-21 squad.

Leeds pair Daniel James and Ethan Ampadu are to win their 50th caps over the course of the play-offs.

Page said: “They’re great lads for what they’ve given to us and the country.

“Ethan’s still a young lad at 23 and they deserve all of the plaudits they’re going to get.”

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