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Robert Page lavishes praise on Kieffer Moore

Robert Page lavishes praise on Kieffer Moore
© Reuters
The Cardiff striker has scored five goals in 17 appearances for his country.

Kieffer Moore has become a victim of Wales' success ahead of Euro 2020, according to interim manager Robert Page.

Cardiff striker Moore burst onto the international scene in 2019 and played a huge part in helping Wales to this summer's delayed European Championship.

But Moore has been on the periphery since Page took over from absent boss Ryan Giggs, starting only two of his eight games in charge, and the 6ft 5in targetman was benched again for Saturday's goalless Euro 2020 warm-up draw with Albania in Cardiff.

Slovakia v Wales – UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying – Group E – Anton Malatinsky Stadium
Kieffer Moore (left) celebrates scoring for Wales against Slovakia in October 2019 (Tim Goode/PA)

Even with limited game-time Moore has scored twice during Page's reign, and his arrival against Albania provided more impetus to Welsh attacks and was a major factor behind an improved second-half display.

Asked about Moore's omission from recent starting line-ups, Page said: "If you're winning games of football and you're playing well why would you change?

"We've had success the way we've played in recent months and if we've needed something different in the past we've put Gareth (Bale) on the left, DJ (Daniel James) on the right and Kieffer on, which has caused more problems.

"I just think when you have success playing a certain way and formation you are asking for more problems by changing it."

Moore joined up with Wales' Euro 2020 squad on the back of an impressive season at club level.

He scored 20 goals in the Sky Bet Championship for Cardiff after proving himself at international level under Giggs.

Moore struck against Slovakia and Azerbaijan as Wales qualified for Euro 2020, and he also scored a Nations League winner away to Finland for Giggs' side in September.

He has taken his international record to five goals in 17 games under Page by scoring at home to Finland in the Nations League return and claiming the friendly winner against Mexico in March.

Wales v Albania – International Friendly – Cardiff City Stadium
Tempers flare during Wales' goalless draw with Albania at the Cardiff City Stadium (Nick Potts/PA)

"Kieffer's got nothing to prove right now," Page insisted. "He's proved over recent months with his goalscoring record at club level that he's a massive part of this squad.

"I've had that conversation with him this week as well so we understand his value to the squad. It's a great headache to have."

Page preferred to start against Albania with Aaron Ramsey in a false nine role and David Brooks and Tyler Roberts either side of the Juventus playmaker.

But Wales, playing in front of home fans for the first time since November 2019 following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, did not manage a single on-target attempt during a flat opening period.

"Aaron's a gifted footballer. At times he gets frustrated with the game, himself and he wants to get on the ball," Page said.

"We'll have a look back at it again, but it's horses for courses with players in that position that can play."

Ramsey, who shook off a second-half knock, Ben Davies and Joe Allen all built up their match fitness by playing an hour before making way.

Ethan Ampadu also played 45 minutes, his first action for seven weeks after a pelvic injury, as Daniel James (illness) and Joe Morrell (bone bruising) sat out the game as a Euro 2020 precaution.

Wales v Albania – International Friendly – Cardiff City Stadium
Interim manager Robert Page praised the response of Wales supporters to players taking the knee before the Euro 2020 warm-up game against Albania (Nick Potts/PA)

Page was delighted with them all getting game-time, as well as the reaction of the 6,500 Cardiff crowd to the Wales players taking the knee before kick-off.

Some England fans booed the anti-racism gesture ahead of the Three Lions' friendly win against Austria in Middlesbrough on Wednesday.

But Wales fans were singing and cheering as both sets of players took the knee at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Page said: "We had a meeting with the players and we all think it's still important to take the knee.

"That's the message we've given out. We're all in it together and there were no issues."

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Wales fans applaud the players and coaching staff after the match against Albania on June 5, 2021
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Wednesday's key events

· Team GB have dominated the men's coxless fours in recent Olympics, winning on each of the last five occasions, but this year they face some stiff competition. They are one of four rowing medal contenders for Great Britain today (2.10am)

· Katie Ledecky and Ariarne Titmus face off again in the women's 200m freestyle final, with the latter having already come out on top in the 400m event (2.41am)
· Team GB's Abbie Wood is among the medal contenders in the women's 200m individual medley final, while teammate Alicia Wilson will also take part. USA's Kate Douglass was the fastest qualifier, while world and Olympic record holder Katinka Hosszu is also involved (3.45am)
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· Team GB were by far the fastest qualifiers for the men's 4x200m freestyle relay final and will therefore be favourites for another gold in the pool (4.26am)

· Team GB take on New Zealand in the first men's semi-final, having been beaten by reigning champions Fiji but then come from behind to overcome USA on day two (3am)
· The sevens gold medal match takes place at Tokyo Stadium, with the winner of Great Britain vs. New Zealand taking on either Argentina or Fiji (10am)

· Joe Fraser and James Hall compete for Team GB in the men's all-around final (3.15am-6.10am)

· Anna Shackley will take part in the women's road time trial (from 3.30am)
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· Jack Laugher bids to retain his men's 3m synchro diving title alongside new partner Daniel Goodfellow (7am)

· Charlotte Dujardin will look to add to her already legendary status with a third successive Olympic individual dressage title (9.30am-1.25pm)

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