Aaron Ramsey and Brennan Johnson

Aaron Ramsey: Wales without injured captain for key Croatia qualifier

Aaron Ramsey and Brennan JohnsonWales are looking to qualify for a third successive European Championship

Wales will be without captain Aaron Ramsey for their key Euro 2024 qualifier against Croatia this month because of a knee injury.

Midfielder Ramsey, 32, may face surgery after injuring his right knee in training with his club Cardiff City.

In his absence, Tottenham defender Ben Davies is expected to lead Wales.

Spurs forward Brennan Johnson also misses out through injury, while Charlie Savage and Owen Beck earn first senior call-ups.

Johnson was injured during last month’s Premier League draw at Arsenal, though it is not thought to be serious.

Savage, a 20-year-old Reading midfielder who came through the youth ranks at Manchester United, is the son of former Wales, Leicester and Blackburn midfielder Robbie.

‘I can’t get Robbie Savage off the phone’

Left-back Beck, 21, is on loan at Scottish Premiership side Dundee from Liverpool and is the great-nephew of Reds and Wales great Ian Rush.

Portsmouth defender Regan Poole could make his debut having been called up for the first time since 2019, while midfielders Luke Harris and Dylan Levitt return to the squad after missing out last month.

Wrexham striker Paul Mullin is on the standby list and would be in line for his international debut if he received a full call-up.

Robert Page’s men face Gibraltar in a friendly in Wrexham on Wednesday 11 October, four days before hosting Croatia at Cardiff City Stadium.

The absence of 84-cap playmaker Ramsey is a major blow for Wales.

Despite September’s 2-0 win in Latvia, they are fourth in Group D, trailing joint leaders Turkey and Croatia by three points, as they aim to reach next summer’s European Championship in Germany.

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Wales need a positive result against unbeaten Croatia if they are to keep automatic qualification hopes alive.

Page ‘confident’ of Ramsey return in November

Aaron RamseyAaron Ramsey is sixth on Wales’ all-time list of men’s scorers with 21 goals from 84 caps

Ramsey, who scored in Wales’ win in Riga earlier this month, has enjoyed a return to form since re-joining his boyhood club Cardiff in the summer.

He has scored three goals in six Championship games, including a penalty in a 2-0 win against local rivals Swansea City.

Bluebirds manager Erol Bulut has said he is hopeful Ramsey might not need surgery.

“To even be mentioning surgery means it is a significant injury,” said Wales boss Page.

“I have had injuries myself in my career and there are always alternatives – let it heal naturally or go down the surgery route.

“Perhaps Aaron’s age may have played a factor. Does he really want to be recovering from surgery after that and go through that process?

“I think If there is an option to heal naturally I would always personally take that as well. I get why he has gone down the natural healing option.”

Asked if he thought Ramsey would be back for Wales’ final two qualifiers in November, Page said: “I don’t think there is going to be a spell of going beyond November he is going to miss.

“So we are confident we will get him back for the November camp, providing how well he heals.

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“We don’t know. He might get to a certain point and have a setback. We will have to wait and see.”

The loss of Johnson is also a blow for Page, who was also without the forward for the reverse fixture with Croatia in March.

Johnson, who joined Tottenham for £50m from Nottingham Forest on transfer deadline day, suffered a hamstring injury in his first Spurs start, a 2-2 draw at North London rivals Arsenal on 24 September.

“It’s not a serious one,” said Page.

“But unfortunately the timing dictates this and so if he is not going to be right for Spurs then it’s not fair for us to pick him and try to play him.”

Wales squad

Hennessey, Ward, A Davies, B Davies, Rodon, Lockyer, Mepham, Poole, Cabango, Williams, Beck, Roberts, Burns, Ampadu, Savage, J James, Levitt, Sheehan, D James, Broadhead, Wilson, Brooks, Cullen, Harris, Moore, Bradshaw.