Wales take aim at Armenia as Euro 2024 qualifying heats up – 5 talking points

Skipper Aaron Ramsey is hoping Wales can take another step towards next summer’s Euro 2024 finals in Germany (Nick Potts/PA)
Skipper Aaron Ramsey is hoping Wales can take another step towards next summer’s Euro 2024 finals in Germany (Nick Potts/PA)

Wales return to Euro 2024 qualifying action against Armenia in Cardiff on Friday.

Rob Page’s side began the campaign in March with a 1-1 draw in Croatia and a 1-0 home victory over Latvia.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the main talking points surrounding the Group D clash as Wales aim to build on that promising start.

Brooks is back

David Brooks would provide one of the most heart-warming stories of the season by returning to the international arena at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Brooks was diagnosed with stage-two Hodgkin lymphoma while on international duty in October 2021 and has rejoined the Wales squad for the first time since announcing he was cancer-free in May last year.

The 25-year-old attacker returned to action for Bournemouth in March and made his first start last month. Brooks has won 21 caps for Wales and played at Euro 2020 before his illness was diagnosed.

Same again, please

Croatia v Wales – UEFA Euro 2024 Qualifying – Group D – Stadion Poljud
Nathan Broadhead’s stoppage-time equaliser in Croatia helped Wales pick up four points from their opening two Euro 2024 qualifiers (Tim Goode/PA)

Duplicating March’s return of four points will do Wales just fine.

Taking a point from World Cup semi-finalists Croatia courtesy of Nathan Broadhead’s stoppage-time strike was a bonus that few – if anyone – predicted.

Beating Armenia and getting some reward against Turkey in Samsun on Monday would represent a huge step for Welsh ambitions of clinching a top-two spot and reaching the finals in Germany next summer.

Johnson boost

Wales v Belgium – UEFA Nations League – Group 4 – Cardiff City Stadium
Brennan Johnson returns to Wales duty after missing the first two Euro 2024 qualifiers through injury (David Davies/PA)

Wales’ March games were overshadowed by the absence of Brennan Johnson.

Boss Rob Page suggested Johnson’s club Nottingham Forest had not done enough to get the forward fit for international duty, a claim which Reds boss Steve Cooper subsequently denied.

Whatever the truth of that, Johnson had an impressive maiden top-flight campaign at the City Ground and his return to the Wales squad is a huge boost.

Managing post-season break

It will be nearly three weeks since the Premier League finished when Wales walk out to take on Armenia.

The regular EFL season ended even earlier on May 8 and several members of Page’s squad have not played since.

Page organised a Cardiff camp for his non top-flight players last month before taking the entire squad to Portugal to prepare for Armenia and Turkey, but it remains to be seen how match-fit they are heading into the two qualifiers.

Painful memories

Wales v Armenia
Ryan Giggs shows his frustration as Armenia hold Wales to a goalless World Cup qualifying draw in September 2001 (David Davies/PA)

Armenia and Wales have only met twice, in 2002 World Cup qualifying.

Both games were drawn, with John Hartson scoring twice in a 2-2 draw at Yerevan’s Republican Stadium in March 2001 after Armenia had been reduced to 10 men.

The return game the following September was Wales’ 500th match. But Wales failed to mark the occasion with a win as their World Cup qualification hopes disappeared with a goalless draw at the Millennium Stadium.