By Phil Blanche, PA Sport
Rob Page insists Aaron Ramsey is “dead keen” to continue his Wales career and believes none of his senior players will follow Gareth Bale in leaving the international scene.
Skipper Bale, Wales’ most capped men’s player and record goal scorer, quit football completely earlier this month with his final games coming at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
There have been question marks over whether Ramsey and Joe Allen – two survivors of the Wales side that reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016 and who are both 32 – will stick around for the forthcoming European Championship qualifiers.
But boss Page, speaking to S4C’s Sgorio programme, said he expects the pair to play in a campaign, which starts away to World Cup semi-finalists Croatia in March.
“People have spoken to Aaron. He’s dead keen,” Page said of the Nice midfielder.
“He can’t wait to meet up again. There’s no inclination at all that any senior player will want to retire.
“If anything it’s quite the opposite. Every member of staff I speak to that has had contact, maybe from the medical team just to check on the players, has said that.
“Our head of recruitment has been to see Joe Allen a couple of times and he’s probably playing his best football at the minute.
“That’s great for us coming into March because he was injured going into the World Cup. We’ll see a different Joe Allen again barring any injury.”
After Wales’ poor performances in Qatar, where they scored just once – a Bale penalty – and finished bottom of their group with one point from three games, Page plans to make changes, both in the playing squad and on his backroom staff.
Veterans such as Chris Gunter and Jonny Williams, who both play in League Two, are set to be jettisoned in favour of younger and more athletic players.
Assistant manager Kit Symons and head of performance Tony Strudwick must be replaced following their post-Qatar departures, and Page wants to recruit a full-time psychologist.
On Symons’ departure, Page said: “It was a really difficult decision. I’ve worked and played with Kit. He’s a top, top bloke.
“I just wanted to freshen things up and keep evolving. I’ll be bringing a new coach and head of sport science in, and there’s a couple of other members of staff I want to add.
“I want to bring in a full-time psychologist. Every other association has got one. We haven’t and we need to keep evolving, progressing and improving.”
Wales failed to match the athleticism of England, Iran and the United States at the World Cup, and Page says new faces will be introduced into his next squad.
He said: “We need young blood coming in and bringing that energy you need when you dine at the top table.
“We’ve got quality and we know we can score goals at the top level, and this is an opportunity for these young players to bring energy.
“Our aim is to qualify for the next Euros, but we are also looking forward to the next World Cup.”
Tottenham defender Ben Davies is favourite to take over the armband from Bale.
Page added: “I have made my mind up, but I’m not going to announce it now.
“There will be a time and a place. Gareth led really well and my next captain will do the same.”