Wales midfielder Joe Allen has admitted that his side will go into Tuesday’s match with England with ‘a different game plan’ to their opening two matches in the competition, after taking a solitary point from their two World Cup matches so far.
Allen returned from injury after a number of months on the sidelines with a hamstring issue against Iran, though his side conceded two late goals following his introduction. It leaves Wales bottom of the group and needing to beat England to have any chance of qualifying for the last 16.
A big criticism of the Welsh team so far in Qatar has been their lack of energy and steel in midfield, with Page opting to feature Harry Wilson and Aaron Ramsey – two attacking minded players – in central areas with only Ethan Ampadu protecting the back three. Both the United States in the first half and Iran for the full 90 have overrun Wales in midfield, with Allen’s absence key.
Wales are expected to be more resolute in their match against England despite their need to win the game, given the quality on paper between the two sides. And Allen hinted that the tactical plan would alter from what’s been seen from Wales so far in order to nullify England’s talented attackers.
“We’ve discussed issues from that game [against Iran], but this one is going to unfold in a different way more than likely,” Allen said. “There’s things that we’ll take that will help us but people are expecting a different type of game – and a tough opposition in England with a different game plan.”
Allen went on to address the feeling in the Welsh camp after the defeat to Iran, with their World Cup hopes hanging by a thread after two poor performances.
“There wasn’t any anger, just frustration that nine times out of 10, whether we win, lose or draw, we give a better account of ourselves than what we’ve done so far. So there’s frustration and hurt that we haven’t done that, but the team spirit is still great and it’s going to play a big role if we go on and get the win we need.
“I think everyone’s hurting because of the situation we find ourselves in and the disappointment of the result, only having a point from two games.
“It’s a feeling of obviously missed opportunity. But we’ve had the time needed to digest that now and our focus now moves into getting on the training pitch, putting in the work and preparing for the performance of our lives against England.
“We need to be better and the way to describe it is that it’s not been a true reflection of the potential we’ve got in our squad and what we’ve shown in the past. We have to set that right in the game, it’s as simple as that and the players know that – as players we have to take responsibility and accountability that we haven’t done it yet.”
What the opening two results have done for Wales however is make their task for the match against England abundantly clear – win or go home. And even that might not be enough. But while showings have not met previous standards this squad have set for themselves, Allen insists the motivation is stronger than ever.
“Honestly, I don’t think we could be more motivated, you know, we’re in the World Cup and we have to win,” he said. “So regardless of who you’re playing it’s pretty simple from that point of view. Everyone knows what’s at stake – it’s a huge moment for our nation so it’s about putting absolutely everything into it.
“You want it to be in your hands, but this is the situation we find ourselves in and while there is a glimmer of a chance we can get ourselves through, we’ve got to throw all we can at doing it.”