Robert Page has stressed the importance of not pushing key players including Aaron Ramsey “over the edge” before Wales kick off their Euro 2020 campaign as they ramp up their preparations with a friendly against the world champions, France, on Wednesday.
Ramsey is one of several players in Page’s squad short of match sharpness, with Ben Davies, Joe Allen, Ethan Ampadu and Tom Lockyer also working their way back to fitness following injuries. Ramsey, whose last appearance for Wales came against the Republic of Ireland last October, has not played since being substituted in Juventus’s game against Fiorentina in April.
“Aaron has probably not played the amount of minutes he would have liked in Italy,” Page said. “We have to be sympathetic. We cannot push him at 100mph to start with. What’s important for us is that I’ve got all the best players and I’ve got all the squad ready for that first game against Switzerland [on 12 June].
“It’s pointless pushing him early doors and having somebody then break down when you’ve passed that point of no return. We’re sympathetic with that. Ben Davies, all of the lads that haven’t played a lot of minutes, we need to manage their minutes. We can’t go straight into playing against France and expect them to play 90 minutes without having repercussions. It’s just common sense.
“[If] you push and push, then you can push them over the edge and have them out of the competition. We don’t want that. We’ve got a 26-man squad we want to protect and make sure come the first game against Switzerland that everyone is raring to go.”
Ramsey has acknowledged it has been another frustrating and stop-start season in Serie A but is confident of being fit for Wales’s Group A opener. “When you arrive at a new club, you want to hit the ground running and show everybody what you can do consistently,” he said, reflecting on two injury-scarred campaigns.
“That’s always going to be difficult when you have these little injuries. I’ve picked up a few niggly injuries. They set you back a couple weeks and getting into some rhythm is very interrupted.”
Page confirmed Lockyer, the Luton centre-back called into the squad on Monday after a calf injury to James Lawrence, would not feature against France in Nice. “Some of the players will play a certain amount of minutes in their recovery from being injured or getting up to full fitness.
“It’s a great test for us for many reasons. We are going to face similar opposition against Switzerland in how they press and how aggressive they are … It’s a big ask and there’ll be times when France will have a lot of the ball and we’ll have to defend as a unit.
“We are going to have to work hard and that’s going to be a theme throughout the tournament. But we know in transition when we’ve got the ball we’ve got players in the team who can hurt opposition.”