Wayne Hennessey will have an injection in his back to enable him to be fit to face England on Thursday after he was ruled out of the opening group game against Slovakia only a couple of hours before kick-off. The Wales No1 suffered a back spasm, forcing Chris Coleman to give Danny Ward, the 22-year-old Liverpool goalkeeper, his first start for his country.
Wales' Wayne Hennessey poses after the press conference
It was an unsettling time for myself but our motto is ‘Together Stronger’ and it is all about the boys,” Hennessey said. “I had a similar one [back spasm] and missed the Liverpool game at home for Crystal Palace [in March]. So I’ll have an injection now and I will probably be back in 24 hours, which sounds crazy. It is one of those things, but it is a quick turn around, you go from broke to mended in about 24 hours, which is good.”
Hennessey was full of praise for Ward, who had made only two sub appearances for Wales before the Slovakia game and played in just two games for Liverpool. Ward is rated highly at Anfield and signed a five-year contract last summer, yet it was a huge moment for him to make his full debut for Wales in arguably the country’s most important match since 1958.
“About a couple of hours before the game I knew that Wayne was struggling but regardless of whether he is 100% fit, 50% fit, or out, you have to go about your business as normal, go out and train hard all through the week and hope you get the chance – and when you do you have got to grab it with both hands,” Ward said.
Unfortunately Ward’s family did not have enough notice to get out to Bordeaux to see him in action. “They couldn’t get over today, the only game they’re not here for, which is a shame, but I am sure they had a good party at home. They are coming over for the other games. This is the only one because of my little brother – he is only young, he’s never been out of the country before, and he only turns up for the big games!”
This article was written by Stuart James in Bordeaux, for The Guardian on Sunday 12th June 2016 22.30 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010