Wales goalkeeper Danny Ward to miss World Cup play-off with Austria

Leicester goalkeeper Danny Ward has been ruled out of Wales’ World Cup play-off against Austria after undergoing knee surgery.

Ward played at Euro 2020 last summer and is Wales’ first-choice ‘keeper after ousting long-time number one Wayne Hennessey.

“It’s really unfortunate,” Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers said of Ward ahead of the Foxes’ Europa League Conference tie in Rennes.

“He has had the injury for a while and it was a clean-up operation on his meniscus.

“So he’s out for a number of weeks. He will be back towards the end of the season.

“It’s something he’s tried to play through. He couldn’t carry on and that’s why you’ve not seen him.”

Hennessey is now set to win his 99th cap against Austria at the Cardiff City Stadium on March 24.

The Burnley veteran could become the third Welshman to the 100 caps landmark should Wales confirm a friendly five days later.

Strikers Kieffer Moore and Tyler Roberts miss out through respective foot and hamstring injuries.

St Pauli defender James Lawrence is also absent with a thigh problem.

Schalke winger Rabbi Matondo returns to a 26-man squad after showing impressive form for loan club Cercle Brugge in Belgium.

It is the first time Matondo has been named in a senior squad since breaching Football Association of Wales protocol and being sent home following a World Cup qualifier against the Czech Republic 12 months ago.

Star men Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey both feature despite recent injury concerns and limited game time respectively at Real Madrid and Rangers.

Skipper Bale became the second Welshman to win 100 caps against Belarus in November, but the 32-year-old’s season has been severely disrupted by injury.

Bale has only featured twice for Real since the end of August, with his only start coming against Villarreal in La Liga last month.

Midfielder Ramsey has started only two games for Rangers – both in the Scottish Cup – since joining the Glasgow giants on loan from Juventus in January.

With a second game on March 29 in mind, Portsmouth midfielder Joe Morrell has been named in the squad despite being suspended for the Austria tie.

The winners of the Wales-Austria tie will play either Scotland or Ukraine in September to determine a place at the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar.

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Author: Arnold Watts