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Brennan Johnson: Wales forward out of Wales squad

  • By Michael Pearlman
  • BBC Sport Wales in Croatia

image source, Photo agency Huw Evans

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Brennan Johnson has scored two goals in 18 games for Wales

Wales manager Robert Page struggled to hide his disappointment after ruling out striker Brennan Johnson from the race to qualify against Croatia and Latvia.

Page says Johnson did not report for international duty this week.

The Wales boss said he was unhappy with the way the injury was handled and suggested he had let Johnson down.

“First and foremost, I feel for Brennan. He wants to play international football like everyone else,” Page said.

“As we know, there is something very special about playing for your country, it shouldn’t be taken for granted by anyone.

“Anyone who has a responsibility to Brennan should respect that and help him in any way they can. But the thing is, we have to pick a team to play against a very good team.”

There were concerns over the 21-year-old’s fitness after suffering a groin injury on March 11 before playing a full 90 minutes against Newcastle United six days later.

Page says he regrets not fighting to get Johnson to report for an evaluation at camp and says Forest with a Welsh manager in Steve Cooper proved not to be a factor.

“We were aware of something last week and then he played 90 minutes on Friday and wasn’t available to meet on Sunday,” Page told BBC Sport Wales.

“It’s not that he’s a Welsh manager, he could be English or Scottish, nationality doesn’t matter.

“He has a job to do. I’m thinking of the player.

“We have to respect that it’s an incredible honor to play for your country.

“Where I should have been a little bit stronger was getting Brennan through the door on Sunday to judge him.”

Croatia host Wales at the Poljud Stadium on Saturday (19:45 GMT).

Wales were already preparing to field a new-look team after a spate of injuries and absentees.

They start life without their men’s top scorer and the greatest modern footballer – Gareth Bale.

Joe Allen, Chris Gunter and Jonny Williams followed Bale in announcing her decision to end her international career.

On the injury front, Tottenham defender Ben Davies has withdrawn from the squad over a suspected hamstring problem, while Johnson’s team-mate Wayne Hennessey is also unavailable.

There are a total of seven uncapped players in Page’s squad – Morgan Fox, Tom King, Jordan James, Nathan Broadhead, Luke Harris, Oli Cooper and Liam Cullen.

With Johnson sidelined, Wales will most likely need to field a forward line made up of players struggling for minutes at club level.

Fulham’s Harry Wilson and Daniel James have one start between them in 2023 and have played just 196 minutes of football in total in that time.

Bournemouth striker Kieffer Moore has played just one minute since he started against Nottingham Forest on January 21.

Bradshaw has scored 14 goals in the Championship, including two hat-tricks, and was named the division’s player of the month in February.

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