Wales were facing uncertainty over Aaron Ramsey’s fitness for the European Championships on Thursday after he missed training, two days out from the nation’s tournament opener against Switzerland.
Ramsey, whose series of muscle injuries have limited his starts for Juventus in the past two years, revealed he has had a personal fitness team working with him, in an attempt to get ready for the Euros.
‘I have got my own team around me who are focused on me, to get me into the best possible shape,’ Ramsey said. ‘Maybe some players need a bit more attention. So I take it into my own hands really and I have the right people around me to try to come up with the best possible plan for me to get myself back into a place where I am.’
Aaron Ramsey skipped training for Wales just two days before they start their Euro 2020 bid
Ramsey (right) cooled talk that his absence was concerning, saying it was a light session for all
The 30-year-old insisted that his absence from training was not a concern. ‘It was a very light session for the boys today. It was planned that I stayed off my feet.’
But the need to use his personal fitness team in the pre-tournament camp and for a few days in Cardiff does suggest a fragility about a player who, if fit, has the quality to get past Switzerland’s well established three central defenders on Saturday.
Ramsey said of his fitness team: ‘A few weeks ago, I had a good few weeks with them and settled in really well. The Wales medical team have been brilliant [too]. They have been open for discussions and it’s important to all be on the same page.
Ramsey praised the work of the Wales medical team ahead of the European Championships
‘I have known a lot of the Welsh staff for a long, long time, from my Arsenal days as well. They understand me, they know my body and they know what I need. Hopefully we can all play a part to try and get myself in the best place.’
At Wales’ glorious 2016 tournament, Ramsey dyed his hair blonde, as Phil Foden has done this summer. But he said a lack of hairdressers had compounded the difficulty repeating the act.
‘It hasn’t’ been so easy because of Covid restrictions!’ he joked. ‘Getting a hairdresser to dye it more difficult than a few years back. Fair play to the players who’ve done it. Whatever floats their boat.’
Ramsey took part in two pre-tournament friendlies for Wales ahead of the summer tournament
He reflected on how far Wales, at their second successive Euros, have come since his so-called golden generation broke through together.
‘We are a million miles away and could never dream of this,’ he said. ‘We knew we had good players who had come through the under 21s and players capable of helping the national team. From them it seems a million miles away.
‘When Gary Speed came in, everything changed – off pitch, sports science, nutrition – to go to the next step and the target was to qualify. He put everything in place to grow as a nation.’
Ramsey played half an hour as a centre forward during Wales’ 3-0 defeat to France last week
Ramsey came on as a 59th-minute substitute in the 3-0 friendly defeat to France last week. He then got an hour under his belt in the final warm-up game against Albania at the Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday, being deployed as a false nine instead of playing in his usual number 10 position in the 0-0 draw.
‘It was a new role for me,’ Ramsey said of the false nine role. ‘But it’s something that we have been working on and for me to try and get familiar with.
‘The starting position’s a lot higher up and you’re playing with your back to goal a little bit more. You’re relying on other players to make those runs in behind if I come a little bit deeper.
‘It’s a lot different. But a lot of teams in the Premier League have had a lot of success doing it, and if done correctly it can be effective. I’m not sure what route we’re going to go down, but it’s something we’ve put into practice and is an option for us.’
Ramsey (left) commented on Phil Foden’s (right) haircut which is similar to his Euro 2016 trim
Ramsey was recognised for his outstanding performances at Euro 2016 by being named in the official team of the tournament. Back then, he was sporting a dyed blond hairstyle – but this time he has passed that look over to England midfielder Phil Foden.
Asked about Foden’s new hairstyle, Ramsey said: ‘To the players who have done it (dyed their hair), whatever floats their boat if you like.
‘It hasn’t been so easy this time because of the Covid restrictions to get a hairdresser in to dye it. Maybe I would have done it if there was no Covid. It was a bit more difficult than it was a few years back.
‘You’d have to get the hairdresser in to have (Covid) tests – and it wasn’t worth the risk.’