Danny Gabbidon says the potential World Cup loss of Joe Allen would probably be a bigger blow to Wales than if they lost Aaron Ramsey or Gareth Bale to injury.
Swansea midfielder Allen, a mainstay of Wales’ 2016 and 2020 European Championship teams, has not played since sustaining hamstring damage against Hull on September 17.
The Welsh club had initially hoped the injury was not serious, but Swansea boss Russell Martin said last week he could not give a “definitive answer” if the 72-times capped Allen will be fit for the World Cup in Qatar.
Former Wales defender Danny Gabbidon says the loss of Joe Allen would be a huge World Cup blow for the Dragons (Rebecca Naden/PA)
Allen is set to undergo further scans this week to determine whether he will be ready for Wales’ World Cup opener against the United States on November 21.
“There will be lots of Wales fans and players as well concerned because we all know how important Joe is to the team,” former Wales defender Gabbidon told the PA news agency.
“He’s probably even more important than Gareth and Aaron because we’ve struggled in that midfield area over the last two or three years.
“Joe had a great partnership with Joe Ledley in that midfield, and his importance is even greater now since Ledders has gone.
Joe Allen (right) and Joe Ledley (left) were a formidable midfield partnership for Wales (John Walton/PA)
“He is the glue in there with the defensive job he does and the experience that he has.
“You can see the difference in that midfield area when he’s not there, and it’s where games are won and lost.”
Wales boss Robert Page is having to contend with mounting injury worries ahead of the nation’s first World Cup for 64 years.
Sheffield United defender Rhys Norrington-Davies is a serious fitness doubt after damaging his hamstring last Wednesday.
Wales manager Robert Page is dealing with growing injury concerns ahead of the World Cup (Mike Egerton/PA)
Cardiff midfielder Rubin Colwill has not played for a month because of a hip problem, and the on-loan Ethan Ampadu came off injured in Spezia’s 1-0 Serie A defeat at Salernitana on Saturday.
“You want all your players available for major tournaments,” Gabbidon said at the Football Association of Wales McDonald’s Grassroots Football Awards.
“The first game is always important. If you can get off to a good start it gives you confidence and takes a little bit of pressure off.
“We’re playing two sides in the USA and Iran, before we meet England, that if we play well we are capable of picking up points.
Sheffield United defender Rhys Norrington-Davies could miss the World Cup with a hamstring injury (David Davies/PA)
“But, on the flip side, if we’re not quite at it they are two nations who can turn you over. The first aim will be to win that opening game, then qualify from the group.
“As we saw in 2016 (when Wales reached the European Championship semi-finals), anything can happen when you get to the knockout stages.
“If we can get out of the group that would be a really good achievement. The confidence the players would get from that would mean they won’t mind playing anyone.”
:: Danny Gabbidon was speaking at the annual Welsh FA Grassroots Awards in partnership with McDonald’s Fun Football. The awards recognise volunteers who are dedicated to making a real difference to community football in Wales.