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Connor Roberts says Wales ‘must not lose’ against Czech Republic

The Czech Republic opened their qualifying campaign with a 6-2 win in Estonia, while Wales lost to Belgium.

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Connor Roberts admits Wales cannot afford to lose their next World Cup qualifier against the Czech Republic with the Dragons already playing catch-up on the road to Qatar 2022.

Wales started their World Cup qualifying programme with a 3-1 away defeat to Group E favourites Belgium on Wednesday, while the Czech Republic were thrashing Estonia 6-2.

The Czechs host Belgium on Saturday before heading to Cardiff on Tuesday for what will be Wales’ second game in qualification.

“You could say it’s maybe a must not lose, but I wouldn’t say it’s a must-win,” Swansea defender Roberts said of the Czech Republic’s visit.

“They’ve started well but there is a long way to go. Even in our European qualifiers, we lost a game to Croatia and we still managed to do it.

“It’s not the be-all or end-all and we’ve got many games to come.

“I don’t think it’s too much to worry about at the moment and, hopefully, we can get as many points as we need to qualify in the end.”

Belgium Wales WCup 2022 Soccer
Wales captain Gareth Bale is dejected after Romelu Lukaku puts Belgium 3-1 ahead from the penalty spot in their 2022 World Cup qualifier (Francisco Seco/AP)

The consolation for Wales against the world’s number one team, who were inspired by Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, was a bold second-half display and one of the greatest team goals in Welsh football history.

Harry Wilson’s 10th-minute strike was the result of a sweeping 17-pass move which saw every outfield player touch the ball at least once.

“There were murmurs of Brazil in the celebration,” said Roberts, who played a key role with his break down the right and infield pass into Gareth Bale before the Wales skipper set up Wilson’s classy finish.

“It was a brilliant move from front-to-back and a good finish from Harry. The goal is a positive to look back on and hopefully we can score a few more like that.”

Wales are waiting to discover the extent of midfielder Joe Allen’s injury.

The influential 31-year-old was forced off after only seven minutes in Leuven on what was his first international appearance since 2019 following a ruptured Achilles tendon.

“It seems to be behind the back of his knee,” said Wales’ caretaker manager Robert Page.

“Either the top of his calf or the bottom of the hamstring, so we’re not quite sure yet.”

Wales v Hungary – UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying – Group E – Cardiff City Stadium
Joe Allen could miss Wales’ upcoming games after being injured early on his international return (Nick Potts/PA)

Allen could now miss Saturday’s friendly with Mexico and, more importantly, the Czech Republic game as Page’s injury problems continue to mount.

Wales have drafted uncapped Swansea defender Brandon Cooper into the squad.

Defensive pair Ben Davies and Tom Lockyer dropped out on Tuesday due to injury.

James Lawrence played against Belgium, but the St Pauli centre-back will not travel to Wales due to quarantine issues.

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