Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Football

Gunter believes long-haul fixtures will pay off for Wales team

Wales start their UEFA Nations League campaign with a September double-header.

Chris Gunter is confident Wales’ recent long-haul travel will act as a short-cut to success.

Wales headed to the Far East in March when Ryan Giggs began his managerial reign with a runners-up spot at the China Cup.

Now, in their final match before the UEFA Nations League gets under way in September, Wales are in the United States for a California friendly with Mexico in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

“The gaffer’s first two trips have been so far away from home that it is a bit different to what we normally do,” Gunter said.

“But we got some good team work done in China and this week we have had more time to prepare.

“Ryan can get to know us and when you’re away, you’re with each other for a long period of time that it breaks down walls, if you like.

“Sometimes it is nice to come that bit further away where there are different surroundings and situations you’re not normally in.

“Those are the times you learn more and it’s good to have a real tough game at the end of a week of training.”

Wales return to competitive action with a Nations League double-header against the Republic of Ireland and Denmark in September.

Their final warm-up game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena must be conducted without talisman Gareth Bale, who is aiming to win a fourth Champions League winners’ medal for Real Madrid on Saturday night.

Liverpool duo Ben Woodburn and Danny Ward are also in Kiev, the injured Joe Allen and Aston Villa pair James Chester and Neil Taylor, who are involved in the Sky Bet Championship play-off final, are also missing.

“The good thing is we always seem to have younger guys coming through,” Gunter said.

“The boys are really helpful and if you were around the team you wouldn’t know it was some people’s first trip or they hadn’t been with us that long.

“There is quite a group of them so I’m sure they feel very comfortable with us.

“They’ve settled in very well and they’re in the squad because they’re very good players and they’re adding to the Wales football team.

“You can sense a real feeling of excitement for what’s to come in this game going into the start of next season when the competitive matches start.”

Gunter, Wales’ most capped outfield with 87 caps, is set to play his 60th game of what has been another long season on a personal level.

The 28-year-old Reading defender has played over 50 games in every one of the last five seasons.

And Gunter was part of a Wales side beaten 2-0 by Mexico in a New Jersey friendly in 2012.

“That was a long night!” he said. “I remember it being really hot and it was tough.

“They were a very good team, as they are now, and they’ve got the World Cup to look forward to as well.

“We know it will be a tough game, but we’re a completely different team to then.

“It’s normal really for us to have a game at this time of the year, and I always think that the summer doesn’t start until you play your last game.

“When you come away and play for Wales, it’s not any form of chore.”

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph