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Dan James will emerge stronger

Rob Page believes Daniel James will emerge as a stronger player for both club and country after his missed penalty ended Cymru’s hopes of reaching Euro 2024.

Cymru will miss out on this summer’s tournament after Poland secured a place by defeating them in the play-off final in March. This month, Page’s team will regroup for friendlies against Gibraltar on 6 June and Slovakia three days later.

James, the Leeds United forward, was the sole player to miss in the penalty shootout against Poland. Despite not registering a shot on target in 120 minutes, Poland advanced to the finals. Page praised the 26-year-old for his reaction following the crucial penalty save by Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

“I have had a couple of messages back and forth with him – he is an incredible person first and foremost,” Page said. “He had the courage to step up and take that penalty, which he deserves an enormous amount of credit for anyway, and he will be bigger and stronger having gone through that experience, as horrible as it was for all of us.

“Credit to him, he went and scored [for Leeds] the week after from the halfway line.”

James’ spectacular goal against Hull City was one of 13 he has scored in 45 Leeds appearances this season. His final club assignment of the campaign is Sunday’s Championship play-off final against Southampton.

Page will name his squad for the Gibraltar and Slovakia friendlies at the end of this month. He emphasised that the former Manchester United player will play a crucial role as Cymru shift their focus to the next Nations League campaign, starting with a home fixture against Turkey on Friday, 6 September.

“No doubt DJ (James) will be a big part of what we are going to do moving forward and no doubt will score important goals for us,” Page said. “We have all got his back, we are all with him. It happens and that’s it, we have to move forward.”

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