Wes Brown is delighted to see Scott McTominay proving himself as a regular goalscorer after initially pigeon-holing the in-form Scotland and Manchester United player as a defensive midfielder.

The 27-year-old notched seven times in the Scots’ successful Euro 2024 qualification campaign last year and has also chipped in with nine for the Red Devils this term despite not being a regular starter.

McTominay is enjoying a purple patch for United after starting their last four matches and netting in narrow victories over Wolves, Aston Villa and Liverpool since the start of February.

Brown has watched McTominay’s progress closely since he made his debut almost eight years ago, and the former England and United defender is thrilled to see his current resurgence under Erik ten Hag ahead of this summer’s Euros.

“It’s absolutely brilliant,” the 44-year-old told the PA news agency as he helped launch a July 20 pre-season friendly between United and Rangers at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium.

“I love the fact he plays higher up the pitch now, I think you’re seeing a really talented player. I used to look at Scott when he first started playing and, just because of his size and athleticism, you’d say he was a defensive midfield player.

“But he’s a goalscorer, he’s got the timing to get in the box when the balls are coming in and not only that, he puts it in the back of the net.

“He makes the runs defenders don’t like, and he’s saved United a few times this season. It always helps when you have a good run of games whereas Scott’s been in and out quite a bit at United. You can see he’s a player the manager really likes this season.”

Brown endorsed McTominay as a future United captain back in 2019 and he still believes that could come to fruition if he asserts himself as a regular over a longer period.

“He loves the club and he puts everything into it,” said Brown.

“Captain doesn’t always have to be the best player, it’s the player that gives everything and commands everything as well, and Scott’s always done that.

“Yes, you do need to be a regular to be a captain but Scott has definitely got the fundamentals to go on and do that. If you see some of the performances he’s put in this year, that’s exactly what a good captain is made of.

“The fans have noticed it, the manager has noticed it, and he’s done it in a tough period as well.

“When the team’s not playing well or the fans are sometimes upset and getting on the players’ backs, Scott’s always the one that will give that determination and the correct attitude. He just needs to play more regularly now.”

While McTominay has not always been in favour at United, he is firmly established as one of the first names on the Scotland teamsheet.

“He really thrives on playing for Scotland,” said Brown.

“Every time I see Scotland are playing, the first thing I think of is ‘has Scott scored?’ and most of the time he has. He’s a passionate player for Scotland.”

Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos has announced he is ready to play for Germany again after retiring from international football in 2021.

Kroos, 34, brought the curtain down on his 11-year international career soon after Germany’s 2-0 Euro 2020 defeat to England at Wembley in the last 16.

But he has remained integral to Real Madrid’s success and said on Instagram he had agreed to make himself available for selection for Euro 2024.

Kroos said: “Guys, short and painless: I will play for Germany again from March.


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“Why? Because I was asked by the national coach, I’m up for it and I’m sure that a lot more is possible with the team at the European Championships than most people believe!”

Kroos, a World Cup winner for his country in 2014, is now expected to be included in Julian Nagelsmann’s squad for this summer’s Euros, which will be hosted by Germany from June 14-July 14.

Former Bayern Munich boss Nagelsmann succeeded the sacked Hansi Flick as Germany’s head coach in September last year.

Kroos, who made his full debut for Germany in a 1-0 friendly defeat to Argentina in 2010, has scored 17 goals in 106 senior international appearances.

Scotland will prepare for the 2024 European Championships with a friendly double-header against Gibraltar and Finland.

Steve Clarke’s side will take on Gibraltar in the Estadio Algarve, Portugal, on Monday, June 3 before a send-off game against Finland at Hampden Park four days later.

It will be the last match action before the Scots head off to Germany for this summer’s Euros where they will face the hosts on June 14 before games against Switzerland and Hungary.

Scotland take on the Netherland and Northern Ireland in two March friendlies while Clarke also confirmed their team base camp for the Euros in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

Clarke, assistant John Carver and performance director Graeme Jones visited the base camp last week, which lies at the foot of Germany’s highest peak, Zugspitze, and will be the squad’s headquarters for the duration of the campaign.

Scotland will stay at Obermuhle, a 120-room luxury resort that combines modern specification and alpine lifestyle with the tradition of being a family-owned establishment for the last century.

The team training ground is a short walk from the hotel and the delegation were greeted warmly by district administrator Anton Speer and Garmisch-Partenkirchen’s Mayor, Elisabeth Koch.

Clarke told scottishfa.co.uk: “It was important for us to finalise our preparations for Euro 2024 as soon as possible and I’m very pleased to have confirmed our final friendly matches and secured our first-choice base camp for the tournament.

“Garmisch-Partenkirchen will make for a comfortable base for our players and backroom staff for the duration of our stay at the tournament and the warm welcome we have received from the local community so far bodes well for when we are in camp there this summer.

“With Gibraltar and Finland confirmed as the final opposition before we take on Germany in the opening match of the tournament my players and coaching staff can now concentrate on ensuring we are in the best shape possible for it.

“I am particularly pleased that our final match before the tournament will be at Hampden and I am looking forward to experiencing what I am sure will be a raucous atmosphere in front of a full house of Scotland supporters that evening.”

Graeme Jones, Scottish FA performance director, said: “From the moment we qualified, Garmisch-Partenkirchen was our preferred location for team base camp and to be honest, I was more excited that the draw enabled us to have our first pick than I was at playing the opening match.

“The priority is making sure the players have the best preparation possible for the Euros and Obermuhle gives us a perfect balance of first-class facilities and a breathtaking, tranquil setting for the players to focus on the challenges ahead.

“The hotel staff, the Mayor and district administrator could not have been more welcoming during the site visit and now that the base camp is confirmed, we look forward to building up to the Euros starting with our matches against the Netherlands and Northern Ireland in March.”

Steve Clarke revealed Scotland will base themselves in Glasgow ahead of Euro 2024 to “feel the mood of the country” ahead of the tournament in Germany.

The Scots prepared for the previous Euros at a training camp just outside of Darlington in the north east of England before playing two games at Hampden Park in between a game against England at Wembley.

Scotland begin their build-up when they take on the Netherlands and Northern Ireland in March friendlies and will have two warm-up games in late May or early June ahead of opening the tournament against the hosts in Munich on June 14.

The final friendly has been pencilled in for Hampden and the Scotland squad will train at Lesser Hampden and stay in the city centre.

Clarke said: “We’re going to base ourselves in Glasgow. We’re not going abroad. I think with the last Euros it felt a little bit remote, out of the country, we didn’t really get a feel for how the nation was.

“Obviously it was in Covid times so it was a little bit different. This time my thinking is that I want the boys to feel the mood of the country before they leave for Germany.

“Plus, fantastic hotel, great pitch, so we know exactly what we’ve got. Home comforts. And then go and attack the tournament.

“That’s what I want for the players. It’s about feeling the mood of the nation before they go there, so they go there understanding the magnitude of the tournament they are going into. I feel maybe the last time, because it was Covid, because it was not a full Hampden, because we were based outside the country, they did not quite get the feel of how enthusiastic the nation were for it. We certainly know this time.”

Despite an encouraging goalless draw against England in the previous Euros, defeats by Czech Republic and Slovakia at Hampden meant that once again the Scots failed to get out of the group. However, Clarke believes the players are all the better for the experience.

The former West Brom and Kilmarnock boss said: “If you remember back, after those Euros when we got a little bit of stick, I defended the way we played. I said there were football moments which went against us, and that can happen.

“If I’m being honest last time I thought we were a little bit over-enthusiastic, especially in the home games.

“The best performance was a more controlled performance at Wembley where we controlled the game better and didn’t allow it to become an open game. That suited our style.

“I also said coming out of those Euros we would become a better team having spent so much time together, and I think that’s been the case. We did improve and we have improved.

“The good thing for me, and it’s what drives me and keeps me moving forward, is that I see more improvement. I think we can improve again. And hopefully this summer we can show we have improved again.

“The Nations League campaign, and getting through to the top section of that, was good for us. That was good for our confidence.

“And then going into the Euros campaign, I sat down at a board meeting and actually promised that if they backed the guys – it was about facilities at the time – we will qualify for Euro 2024. And we did, and we did it comfortably, which was a nice way to do it.”

Scotland fan groups have criticised a Euro 2024 ticket “shambles” which delayed the start of the controversial sales process to official supporter club members.

Up to 10,000 members of the Scottish Football Association’s Scotland Supporters Club were due to start buying tickets for the three group games at noon on Wednesday but a blunder forced a late postponement.

The SFA blamed a “technical error” after many fans were sent access codes for the UEFA ticket portal despite having less than the 12 SSC loyalty points required to take part in the first sales window.

The Tartan Army were still reeling from the sobering impact of ticket prices of up to 600 euros (about £514) for the opening match with Germany when the sale was called off less than an hour before it was due to start.

Many SSC members were already unhappy that those with the most points have not been given the opportunity to buy the less expensive tickets first.

The sale is now due to start at noon on Thursday and is open to all members with 12 or more points.

A statement from the Association of Tartan Army Clubs read: “Today should have been a day of celebration for the Tartan Army getting their hands on a ticket for the upcoming Euros. The reality is that it has turned in to a shambles.

“We are extremely disappointed and concerned that there was no supporter consultation in advance of the ticket sale schedule and methodology. The opportunity was there.

“Additionally, we would have expected the SFA to have consulted with other participating nations in order to identify best practice. This was a serious failing.”

The group said it had been highlighting what other countries were doing to sell tickets to supporters following a Fan Embassy workshop in Hamburg.

SSC members were later sent another email telling them that new access codes would be sent out on Thursday morning ahead of the noon start.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the unfortunate technical issue that delayed today’s sale of UEFA Euro 2024 tickets,” the supporters club email added.

Although members with at least 12 points are guaranteed tickets for games against Germany, Hungary and Switzerland, fans had been gearing up to apply at noon in a bid to get the less expensive tickets.

UEFA has allocated 10,000 tickets to fans of each nation for each game in the tournament.

However, the tickets vary in price and the opening match against Germany in Munich on June 14 comes at a huge premium.

Tickets range from 50 to 600 euros for the game, which makes them significantly more expensive than all the other group stage matches.

Only about 3,000 tickets are available to Scotland fans at the lower rate, with 3,435 tickets costing 195 euros. The next 2,541 fans will have to pay 400 euros and more than 1,000 supporters face paying 600 euros to get in.

Scotland fans have suffered more frustration in the process of buying Euro 2024 tickets after a blunder delayed the much-awaited start of the sale.

The Tartan Army were still reeling from the sobering impact of the ticket prices for the opening match with Germany following the high of Saturday’s draw, when the sale was called off less than an hour before it was due to start at noon on Wednesday.

Scotland Supporters Club members with 12 or more loyalty points were due to be sent codes to use on UEFA’s ticket portal on the morning of the sale but too many received it.

An email to fans read: “Due to a technical error, UEFA EURO 2024 codes have been sent out to Scotland Supporters Club members who are not eligible to buy tickets at this stage.

“As a result of this error, the sale scheduled for 12 noon will be delayed until further notice while we liaise with UEFA to resolve the issue.

“The Scottish FA would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused to supporters at this time. We will communicate further information on the sales schedule as soon it is available.”

Members with 12 points were due to get a 24-hour period to purchase tickets before the offer is extended to those on 11 points but fans had been gearing up to apply at noon in a bid to get the less expensive tickets.

UEFA has allocated 10,000 tickets to fans of each nation for each game in the tournament.

However, the tickets vary in price and the opening match against Germany in Munich on June 14 comes at a huge premium.

Tickets range from 50  to 600 euros for the game, which makes them significantly more expensive than all the other group stage matches.

Only about 3,000 tickets are available to Scotland fans at the lower rate, with 3,435 tickets costing 195 euros. The next 2,541 fans will have to pay 400 euros and more than 1,000 supporters face paying 600 euros (about £514) to get in.

Scotland midfielder Callum McGregor is relishing the prospect of opening Euro 2024 against the hosts.

Steve Clarke’s side will kick off the tournament on June 14 against Germany at the Allianz Arena in Munich.

Scotland will also take on Hungary and Switzerland in Group A following Saturday’s draw in Hamburg.

McGregor said: “It was great watching the draw. We have three really good teams and it’s a strong group.

“When you get to a tournament that’s what you want to do, you want to be against the best teams and that’s what we’ll do in the opening game against Germany.

“It doesn’t come much bigger than that as an occasion and everyone is looking forward to it.”

Scotland opened the 1998 World Cup with a 2-1 defeat by Brazil at the Stade de France in their most recent major tournament on foreign soil.

Celtic captain McGregor said: “I don’t remember the 1998 game as such but I have heard people talking about it.

“It’s going to be such a brilliant occasion opening the whole tournament.”

Gareth Southgate says England must have the “humility to start again” as the Euro 2020 runners-up look to go one glorious step further in Germany next summer.

Impressive progress during the former defender’s seven-year reign means the side ranked third in the world are among the favourites to lift the European Championship trophy in Berlin.

England found out their Euro 2024 group and potential pathways to the July 14 finale in Saturday evening’s draw at the stunning Elbphilharmonie concert hall in Hamburg.

Southgate’s top seeds avoided a so-called group of death after Slovenia and Serbia followed Euro 2020 semi-final opponents Denmark, but there is little chance of complacency seeping in.

“Well, certainly when Denmark came out, and you could still have Denmark, Croatia, Italy or something like that, then you’re wondering where it’s heading,” the England manager said.

“But then, of course, you have to be very careful not to underestimate the opponents you have.

“I’ve been fortunate as a coach and a player to have been to eight tournaments.

“I’ve seen a lot of teams that were fancied and well ranked going into tournaments not deliver and not get out of their group.

“So, we have to have the humility to start again, as well as we’ve been playing and as well as we’ve built over a long period of time.

“We’ve been ranked in the top five in the world for five years, so we’ve had consistency of performances and results.

“But a new tournament means a new challenge and the first objective is to get out of the group again.”

England have progressed from every group during Southgate’s tenure, going onto reach at least the quarter-finals at all three major tournaments.

There were signs of progress before they lost at that stage to eventual finalists France at the 2022 World Cup, having gone within penalties of becoming continental champions in the last edition of the Euros.

Put to Southgate that opposing teams and players have praised his work and the England team, he said with a smile: “Yeah, well, I take that with a pinch of salt. Managers are good at that… because I do it myself!

“It’s clear the team are heading in a good direction. The rankings came out this week and we were third in the world, so I think our performances across the calendar year have been good.

“Eight wins, two draws, we won the toughest qualifying group and we won it comfortably, but that’s history and you have to go again in the next calendar year.

“It’s nice when we travel around Europe I have to say do get well received and we do get a lot of credit, which is lovely.

“But of course we know there’s still a step we want to take and that’s what drives us.”

This is shaping up to be Southgate’s final tournament in charge, with his contract at the Football Association expiring after next year’s finals.

The 53-year-old had considered quitting after Qatar this time last year but decided to give it another go at winning a trophy he and the nation craves.

“Probably the biggest pressure is what you put on yourself because of what you want to achieve and what you what you want to bring for your country, really,” Southgate said.

“But it’s no more or less than when I started in the job seven years ago.

“We now have a lot more experience, a lot more experience of big matches, a lot more experience of navigating tournaments, so we’re looking forward to it.

“We’re hoping that we can give our fans, our public some more great nights like I think we have in the last three tournaments.”

This summer will go down in history if England flourish in Germany, where fans will make the journey to a tournament en masse for the first time during his time in charge.

“The most recent tournaments have been a little bit different,” Southgate added.

“It wasn’t so easy to get to Russia or Qatar, and in the Euros we were coming out of Covid and was very different as well.

“This will be a little bit more like the tournaments when I was playing and when I was growing up and, yeah, we’re looking forward to that.

“We’re pleased that our fans are excited because that’s what it’s all about.”

Gareth Southgate insists England will head into Euro 2024 ready to handle the expectation that comes with being ranked one of the tournament favourites.

The England boss and his players were pitted against Denmark, Serbia and Slovenia in Group C for next summer’s finals in Germany in Saturday night’s draw in Hamburg.

Southgate has overseen a transformation of England’s fortunes since he took over in 2016, steering them to a first World Cup semi-final since 1990 at the 2018 tournament in Russia and a first-ever Euro final appearance in 2021.

There were further signs of progress in December’s run to the World Cup quarter-finals and the side are firm favourites to take the final step and claim silverware, thanks in no small part to Real Madrid star Jude Bellingham and Bayern Munich sharpshooter Harry Kane.

“They are used to playing in big matches and have produced regularly,” Southgate said.

“They are used to playing in big matches together and individually, so we are excited and all looking forward to the summer.

“We feel the squad has been building for a period of time and England are going to be competitive for the foreseeable future as you look at the young players coming through. When we started at St George’s Park it is what we wanted to happen.

“If you are continually in those latter stages, most teams that win go close and then get there.”

Denmark were England’s opponents in a tense semi-final at Euro 2020, when Kane scored from a penalty rebound after a spot-kick was controversially awarded for a foul on Raheem Sterling in extra time.

But Southgate also well remembers a past encounter with Slovenia.

England faced them in his second match in charge as interim manager in October 2016, a qualifier for the 2018 World Cup. England clung on for a point that day in a 0-0 draw, and Southgate saw it as a turning point in his England tenure.

“Slovenia takes me back to one of my first games as manager where but for Joe Hart plucking out one of the best saves I’ve ever seen, I wouldn’t be standing here and I would probably still be a caretaker, but at something else,” he said.

Serbia are the opponents in the Arena AufSchalke opener on June 16, before England take on Denmark at the Frankfurt Arena on June 20.

England round off Group C against Slovenia at Cologne Stadium on June 25 at a tournament they intend to spend based in central Germany.

UEFA provided a team base camp catalogue to teams, but the PA news agency understands the Football Association plans to stay at an unlisted venue.

Weimarer Land in Blankenhain has been lined up – a remote spa and golf resort that has a 45-hole course and, most importantly, two training pitches.

Final Football Association visits are planned at the venue that is around 90 minutes from host venue Leipzig and a 30-minute drive from the city of Erfurt.

Asked about England finalising their team base and pre-tournament friendlies, Southgate told PA after the draw: “Today allows us to take those plans to the next stage.

“Definitely the friendlies we’ve got an idea on dates, but we can now look at the opponents with more detail.

“Similar with the base camp. We know now where our matches will be played, so we can start to cement those plans in the next few days.”

Pornographic noises disrupted Saturday evening’s Euro 2024 draw in Hamburg.

The interruption, which sounded like sexual moaning, was initially heard after Switzerland were drawn in the same group as Scotland, Hungary and hosts Germany, prompting smirking faces among the audience.

Draw host Giorgio Marchetti, the deputy general secretary of UEFA, attempted to take control of the situation, saying: “There is some noise here that…has now stopped. No noise anymore.”

But further sporadic interruptions were heard as the draw continued.

Similar noises disrupted the BBC’s live coverage of an FA Cup match between Wolves and Liverpool in January, which was hosted by Gary Lineker.

That incident, for which the corporation later apologised, turned out to be the prank use of a mobile phone.

Rob Page believes Wales have a “great opportunity” to reach Euro 2024 after being handed two possible home ties in the qualification play-offs.

Wales will welcome Finland to the Cardiff City Stadium on Thursday, March 21 following Thursday’s draw at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.

Victory in that single-leg semi-final would see the Dragons take on either Poland or Estonia at the same venue five days later, with a spot at next summer’s tournament in Germany up for grabs.

Manager Page was relieved to avoid a rematch with Ukraine, who his side beat in a play-off to qualify for last year’s World Cup, and insists Wales fear no-one in Cardiff.

“We tried to forecast the draw beforehand and we weren’t too far away,” said Page, whose team could also have been paired with Iceland at the last-four stage.

“What’s important to us is that home draw in the final – we’ve got to get the job done (against Finland) first and foremost, of course we have.

“We were probably wanting to avoid Ukraine as well so I think it’s gone to plan for us.

“I don’t think any team in that group (Ukraine, Finland and Iceland) would have been wanting to play us. I was more nervous for the draw for the home tie for the final.

“The form we’re in at the minute and with the ‘Red Wall’ at home, we’ll take anyone on in Cardiff.

“It’s a great opportunity for us: we’re two wins at home away from another qualification to a major tournament. We’re hoping now for two big efforts.”

Wales enter the play-offs unbeaten in six matches, a run which includes a 2-1 victory over Croatia and a 1-1 draw with Turkey – the two teams who finished above them in Group D.

Finland sit 62nd in the FIFA rankings and are aiming to qualify for the European Championship finals for only the second time following their debut at Euro 2020.

They were third in Northern Ireland’s qualifying group – four points behind both Denmark and Slovenia – after winning six of their 10 fixtures.

“Of course they’re a threat, we’ve got to respect that,” Page said of Finland.

“They’re a good team, they’re here for a reason.

“But if we meet the standards we set against Croatia and Turkey, I’m confident the result will take care of itself.”

Influential midfielder Aaron Ramsey missed the final three matches of qualifying due to a knee injury sustained in September.

Page has already been in contact with the former Arsenal and Juventus player, who rejoined boyhood club Cardiff in the summer, and expects him to “do everything in his power” to be ready for the play-offs.

“To have someone of Aaron’s quality to join the squad again is going to be a definite bonus for us, absolutely,” said Page.

“There’s a lot of time from now until March to get himself in the right place and he’s done a bit of work with us on camp last week.

“We’ve just had a couple of (text) messages together and he said about the draw, straight away he’s on it and he’s looking forward to it.

“He will do everything in his power now to make sure he’s part of that squad in March.”

Wales are seeking to secure a third successive appearance at the European Championship finals.

They are also attempting to reach a fourth major tournament out of the last five after last year ending their 64-year wait to play at the World Cup.

Wales came through the play-offs to book a spot at Qatar 2022, defeating Austria and Ukraine in Cardiff, and Page feels that experience could prove invaluable.

“That will be really important for us,” he said.

“A large portion of the group had the experience, so we’ve already exposed them to those types of games and environments. It won’t be alien to them.”

Wales must navigate the play-offs in March to reach the European Championship finals next summer.

If they do so, it will be Wales’ fourth major tournament out of the last five.

Here, the PA news agency looks at their Euro 2024 story so far and what happens next.

How did Wales get here?

It has been a campaign of transition without talismanic captain Gareth Bale following his retirement in January and the loss of other key players such as midfielder Joe Allen.

Wales began well with a bonus point away to World Cup semi-finalists Croatia – courtesy of Nathan Broadhead’s stoppage-time equaliser – and a narrow home win over Latvia.

But a sour summer – back-to-beat defeats against Armenia and Turkey – would cost them dear, despite bouncing back with a 2-0 success in Latvia and a sensational 2-1 home victory over Croatia.

Wales had automatic qualification in their hands heading into the final two games, but ultimately fell short with closing 1-1 draws against Armenia and Turkey. Croatia and Turkey qualified as the top two in Group D.

Play-off scenario

Wales will discover at 11am on Thursday morning who their semi-final opponents will be on March 21.

Manager Rob Page will attend the draw in Switzerland to get a flavour of what stands in his side’s way.

It is a case of one from three countries as Finland, Iceland or Ukraine will be paired with Wales in Path A.

The winners of that tie will play Poland or Estonia in the play-off final on March 26 for the right to play at Euro 2024.

Home sweet home

Wales will have home advantage for the semi-final, which will be played at Cardiff City Stadium.

That is a huge boost for Wales who have had some special nights in Cardiff in recent times, and beat both Austria and Ukraine there in the 2022 World Cup play-offs.

The Nyon draw on Thursday will also decide who gets home advantage for the March 26 final.

Wales got the breaks in the 2022 World Cup play-offs with two home ties. Will they be as fortunate again?

Who do Wales want?

Ukraine are 22nd in the FIFA rankings, six places above Wales, and present the toughest test on paper.

They were third in England’s qualifying group and might already be preparing for Germany had they been awarded what appeared a certain stoppage-time penalty against Italy on Monday.

Finland won six of their 10 qualifiers and finished four points behind Denmark and Slovenia, while Iceland won only three times in 10 games and were a distant fourth to Portugal, Slovakia and Luxembourg.

Whoever they play, Wales enter the play-offs with confidence after an unbeaten six-game run of three wins and three draws.

Rob Page insists Wales can reach Euro 2024 by drawing on their successful World Cup play-off history.

Wales were consigned to the Euro play-offs in March after a controversial 1-1 draw with Turkey in Cardiff.

Neco Williams’ early strike was cancelled out by Yusuf Yazici’s second-half penalty – with Page suggesting Wales would have won with another referee – as the Dragons fell short in their bid to overtake Croatia for the second automatic qualifying place behind group winners Turkey.

Croatia secured automatic qualification with a 1-0 home victory over Armenia, leaving Wales in the play-offs with a home semi-final against either Finland, Iceland or Ukraine. Poland and Estonia will contest the other semi-final.

The identity of Wales’ opponents will be determined by a draw on Thursday – and boss Page hopes play-off history will repeat itself as Austria and Ukraine were beaten in Cardiff en route to reaching the 2022 World Cup.

“We will throw everything into the preparation for the play-offs now,” said Page, who will attend the draw at Nyon in Switzerland.

“I’m pleased it’s a home draw. What our supporters do is incredible and this place is a fortress. We never disappoint and the crowd never disappoints – Croatia, Turkey, the Austria and Ukraine games.

“The lads who were in the play-offs have had those experiences.

“They managed the emotions of the Ukraine game for obvious reasons and that will stand them in good stead for these games.

“We’ve had some big nights here and we go into the play-offs with confidence.”

Wales had three penalty appeals turned down in a nine-minute spell midway through the first half.

Harry Wilson went down in a tangle of legs with with Abdulkerim Bardakci before Brennan Johnson was floored by a sliding Samet Akaydin tackle when the defender did not make contact with the ball.

Akaydin then flattened Johnson from behind in a crowded goalmouth, but neither Slovenian referee Matej Jug nor VAR came to the conclusion it was a penalty.

To add insult to injury, Jug decided Ben Davies had pushed Kenan Yildiz over and awarded a dubious 70th-minute penalty.

Asked if Wales would have won with another referee, Page replied: “I have to be careful what I say. But I believe so, if I’m being completely honest.

“It’s a stonewall penalty, one of the most obvious penalties I’ve seen, against Brennan. The defender’s got the wrong side of him, he runs into him and takes him out.

“Then we’ve conceded the softest penalty you’ll ever concede. It’s so frustrating. The VAR check was over after 10 seconds.

“I can’t get my head around it, I can’t really understand how they’ve come to that decision.”

Wales will return to action in March on the back of an unbeaten six-game run, stitched together after back-to-back June defeats to Armenia and Turkey that ultimately cost them dear.

But Page was delighted by his side’s performance following a tepid display in drawing 1-1 away to Armenia on Saturday.

He said: “I think you saw from the first minute we were at them. I challenged JJ (Jordan James) and Ethan (Ampadu) to be a little more creative on the ball.

“I thought both of them stepped up to the plate – and then some. JJ went to another level and from the first minute there was no thought of ‘we’ve got the play-offs’.

“We weren’t taking our foot off the gas. We were going for the win.

“If we can recreate the performance we had against Croatia, home and away, and Turkey – even out there before we went down to 10 men – then we will be OK.”

Gareth Southgate says England will be away from the tournament hubbub next summer with plans in place for a quiet European Championship base camp.

Monday’s 1-1 draw in North Macedonia rubber-stamped the Euro 2020 runners-up a place among the top seeds in the December 2 draw in Hamburg.

Southgate will be in attendance for a draw that will not only provide clarity on opposition and pathways but where England will be based during their stay in Germany.

This tournament is being regionalised for sustainability purposes, with priority given to teams whose preferred base camps are closer to their match venues.

England have registered their interest in a number of options across Germany and Southgate suggests their base will be off the beaten path.

“Really somewhere where we can be a little bit on our own,” he said looking ahead to his fourth major tournament in charge.

“We need that nice contrast of relaxation and areas where we can work.

“You want to minimise travel where you can but we are really, within the FA, our staff are really good at picking those venues that I think the players will enjoy and will feel comfortable in.

“You basically want to be somewhere where everything that’s going on around you, you can zone out from really but somewhere with facilities that are good for working.”

The camp sounds similar to the quiet, laid-back surrounds of Repino – a secluded area around 30 miles from downtown St Petersburg that provided England’s base during the 2018 World Cup.

It certainly will not be anything like the base for their last major tournament in Germany, with Baden-Baden becoming a media circus during the 2006 World Cup.

“I wasn’t involved in that tournament so I don’t know how all that was but we have a great environment with our players,” Southgate said.

“We want their families to be able to go and enjoy the tournament as well. We normally welcome them in at various times.

“It changes the dynamic of the hotel, especially if the kids come in, and I think those elements are important for the players.”

The Football Association has been scouring through the Euro 2024 base camp guide and has visited a number of potential destinations as it edges closer.

England will be sweating on the draw to see if they get their venue of choice, with Southgate saying there are various things that go into it.

“There is basically a catalogue and you’ve got to get in early, if you like, on certain venues or you can try and go off the catalogue and do something different,” he said.

“We’ve had both options available to us and we are looking forward to finalising all of our plans.”

As for the potential opposition in Germany, the pots could prove cruel or kind and Southgate is ready whatever the outcome.

“There looks like being really strong teams in pot two and pot three looks like it could be very strong,” he added.

“In the Euros we had Croatia in with us, who proved to be one of the best teams in the world over the last few years and we managed to navigate that, so we’ve just got to be ready for whatever comes our way.”

Kyle Walker believes England have enough players with big-match experience to challenge for Euro 2024 glory – if they can perfect their mentality.

England rounded off 2023 with a forgettable 1-1 draw in North Macedonia on Monday night having already assured their spot at next summer’s finals by beating Italy last month.

Gareth Southgate’s side ended the calendar year unbeaten and topped Group C of Euro 2024 qualifying in the process.

The Euro 2020 runners-up will now be top seeds for December’s group-stage draw in Hamburg as England target their first major silverware since 1966.

Walker insists they ended the year well despite having already secured qualification amid criticism of the performances in North Macedonia and in the 2-0 Wembley win over Malta.

“I don’t think there’s really been a drop off,” he told Radio 5Live.

“There’s been a good win against Malta. Okay, if you go and score eight everyone says you should have gone and scored eight- if we don’t score eight it’s a problem.

“So it’s three points. Never mind if it’s an eight or 1-0, it is still three points on the board. We know coming here, we should win. We should win but the campaign and the group is wrapped up and it was always going to be a difficult one.

“But I said at the start of the team talk that it’s about mentality now, we’ve got the group of players that we’ve had for a number of years now. We’re all mature, we’ve all been in big situations, whether it’s Champions League finals, fighting for the Premier League, semi-finals of a World Cup, finals of the Euros.

“Now it’s about our mentality. Now it’s about mentality on the field and off the field to make sure that we take this country to where it deserves and that is to hopefully pick up that European trophy.”

Walker, 33, has been installed as Manchester City captain this season but sported the armband for his country for the first time in Monday’s draw.

“It was a really proud moment when the manager pulled me aside this afternoon and told me that I would be leading the team out,” he added.

“Obviously I’m doing that for Manchester City now but to do it for my country is a real big step in the right direction and another thing I’ve ticked off my list.

“We had to be patient and try and break them down. They had a back five and it’s always going to be tough but that’s no excuse.

“We know that we should be coming here, taking three points and getting on the plane back home and celebrating qualifying with a good end to the campaign.

“But listen, we’ve qualified and let’s not underestimate that. We’ve qualified for a major tournament once again and that’s what we needed to really do.”

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