Robert Page avoids World Cup talk to focus on ‘final’ clash with Poland

Robert Page insists Wales will forget about Sunday’s World Cup to try to stay top of the Nations League.

Wales remain bottom of League A4 after losing 2-1 to Belgium on Thursday.

However, Poland’s 2-0 defeat at home to the Netherlands means Wales can go down when they beat the Poles in Cardiff on Sunday.

Wales boss Page said: “It’s a final. Forget the World Cup, it’s a game we want to win on Sunday.

“We’ve just got to get the guys back in. A few changes will be made and we’ll go and put a winning team in the game.

Captain Gareth Bale is likely to start on Sunday after coming on as a second-half substitute in Brussels.

Bale did just one training session after joining the camp on Tuesday from the United States after playing for Los Angeles FC the previous day.

Asked why Bale didn’t start, Page said: “All the travelling. The return of the time difference is a tough job for the players to adjust to.

“It would be crazy to throw directly into the game away from home against Belgium.

“It was good for him that he got a few minutes off the jet lag

“It was a smart decision not to play from the start, but I wanted to go on as soon as possible and help the team.

Wales’ Chris Mepham battles Belgium’s Lois Openda on the left in Brussels (Tim Goode/PA)

(PA wire)

“It’s a great lesson for us. We were without five players that would make us stronger.

“There are lessons learned here to go to the World Cup. I told them in the dressing room that we asked for it.

“Qualifying for the World Cup, we want to compete with countries like Belgium, like Holland, and we’ve been in games until the end. That says a lot about this group of players.

Page praised Brennan Johnson after the Nottingham Forest forward gave Kieffer Moore’s second-half header a glimpse of his talent.

After the majestic Kevin De Bruyne and Michy Batshuayi had given Belgium the lead, Johnson set off on a blistering 40-yard drive before curling a superb cross at the far post.

“Brennan has been great, he’s accomplished so much in such a short amount of time,” Page said.

“I asked him something else in midfield.

“When you see him run with the ball, it’s great, that’s his game, that’s his strength.”

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez was sent off for holding onto the ball in the final seconds.

Martinez said: “First time I got sent off. New experience.

“I was surprised. I probably should have let the ball go.

“We’ll see what that means, but I respect the referee’s decision.”

Belgium visit group leaders Holland on Sunday and Martinez said: “It’s the perfect game to prepare for the World Cup.

“This World Cup could be the best in terms of individual performances and mental freshness.”