‘Messing around the supply teacher’ – Wales protocol breach ‘last thing we need’, says Saunders
Venue: Cardiff City Stadium Date: Tuesday, 30 March Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, 5 Live, BBC Sounds, BBC Sport website and app, S4C
The disciplining of three Wales players will have disrupted preparations for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against the Czech Republic in Cardiff, says ex-Wales striker Dean Saunders.
Hal Robson-Kanu, Rabbi Matondo and Tyler Roberts have been released from the squad after “breaching protocols”.
“It’s a distraction and the last thing we need really,” Saunders said.
“The situation Robert Page is in, he’s under pressure anyway trying to keep the discipline in the camp.”
Page is in charge of Wales in the absence of Ryan Giggs, who has had his bail extended to 1 May after denying an allegation of assault.
The caretaker boss has also offered support to Ben Cabango and Matondo after they were racially abused on social media following Saturday’s 1-0 friendly win over Mexico, an incident being investigated by police.
Group E second seeds Wales started their 2022 campaign with a 3-1 defeat away against group favourites Belgium last Wednesday.
Czech Republic top the group after thrashing Estonia 6-2 and drawing with Belgium, and Wales risk falling seven points behind them should they lose at Cardiff City Stadium.
Although the nature of the three players’ disciplinary infraction has not been revealed, Leeds United forward Roberts apologised on social media, saying he “shouldn’t have been up in the hotel later than the set time”.
‘Messing around the supply teacher’
“We don’t know what they’ve done, we’re speculating, but if the manager tells you to do something you’ve got to do it – especially when he’s the acting manager,” said 75-cap Wales striker Saunders, who was also Wales assistant manager under John Toshack.
“It’s like being at school when you bring the supply teacher in, everybody starts messing around in the class… they’ve put him in a difficult position.
“He’s under pressure to keep everything right and he’s gone down the firm route, but the three of them are no use to us [on their way home] down the M4.
“I’ve been an assistant and when you go away on trips I’ve called the players in and said, ‘listen, don’t put me in a difficult position where I’ve got to sit in front of the press and explain your behaviour. If I tell you to be in bed at that time, be in bed at that time. If I tell you we’re training at 10 o’clock just turn up’.”
Speaking to BBC Radio Wales Breakfast, Saunders added: “He’s got a difficult job on his hands but last night before he did it, he’d probably have to speak to the FAW [Football Association of Wales], speak to Giggsy probably and then hand that out, when he probably should have been… working out the tactics. It’s a difficult position they’ve put him in.
“It’s a distraction we don’t need and Rob Page should be concentrating on tactics, ‘what am I going to do, who am I going to play?’
“It’s a big game and we’ve got to win, we can’t afford to go seven points behind the Czech Republic.”