Rob Page

Wales manager Rob Page. Pic: Getty Images.

Pressure Mounts On Rob Page As Bookies Circle And Slovakia Lay In Wait For Wales

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By Paul Jones

Rob Page will be keen to move on from the boos and jeers aimed at the Wales manager in his last match when his team face Slovakia on Sunday.

The embattled Wales boss was the target for a small group of supporters who followed their team to Portugal in midweek to see them struggle in an acutely embarrassing 0-0 draw against Gibraltar.

That result – even in a friendly – and adverse reaction has turned the pressure back on Page and prompted Welsh bookmakers DragonBet to offer close to even money odds on Page still being charge by September.

That’s when Wales start their Nations League campaign at home to Turkey on September 6.

DragonBet are offering 4/5 on Page remaining at the helm by that stage and director James Lovell said: “There is obviously still a lot of lingering disappointment among fans after the defeat to Poland in the play-off final for the Euros.

“But the reaction of fans after the Gibraltar performance shows the frustrations maybe run a little deeper.

“We’re Doing Okay” Says Rob Page After Wales Draw With Gibraltar

“The FAW have come out and supported Rob, but it will be interesting to see what happens over the next few weeks if there is another poor result and performance against Slovakia.”

Unlike Wales, Slovakia have qualified for the Euro finals in Germany.

Slovakia also warmed up for Sunday’s game by taking on a minnow – but in their case they thumped San Marino, 4-0.

The Wales manager fielded an inexperienced side in Portugal with a threadbare squad hit by a host of withdrawals and the sterner test against Slovakia to come.

Ethan Ampadu will return to captain Wales for the first time, while Danny Ward, Chris Mepham and Jordan James will also play after sitting out the Gibraltar game.

There should also be starts for Brennan Johnson, Daniel James and Kieffer Moore, who were introduced into the attack during the second half on Thursday.

Page said: “We were disappointed with the Gibraltar game but we must move forward.

“We’ll put it right and go again on Sunday. It’s another friendly and it is what it is from a selection point of view.

“The lads are on the back of three weeks off, so it was unrealistic to start with our strongest team for the two games.

“That’s the reason we picked that team to play Gibraltar because we want to expose some of the younger players to international football.”

Page gave five players – Charlie Crew, Fin Stevens, Jay Dasilva, Lewis Koumas and Tom King – their debuts against Gibraltar.

Liverpool teenager Koumas, who met the club’s record goalscorer and former Wales striker Ian Rush at their Portuguese training camp this week, came close to scoring after being sent on as a 73rd-minute substitute.

“The keeper’s made a great save from his left-footed shot and his work-rate off the ball was phenomenal,” said Page.

“So he’s done his chances no harm whatsoever.

“Both Lewis and Charlie have really impressed and I can see why they’re being spoken about in such a high manner at club level.

“Fin Stevens and Matty Baker have also stepped up. The new lads that we’ve brought in have adapted really easily.”

Having missed out on qualification for Euro 2024, the Slovakia friendly is Wales’ final outing before the Nations League campaign gets under way in September.

Wales are in the same League B group as Iceland, Montenegro and Turkey, with the competition having a partial bearing on qualification for the 2026 World Cup.

Page said: “The performances in the play-offs against Finland and Poland were exceptional, so I’m not going to get too carried away (with the Gibraltar result).

“We’re unbeaten since September. The form at the minute has been OK with regards to results.”

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