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Joe Ledley warns Joe Allen in Wales battle for World Cup fitness

Joe Allen’s bid for World Cup fitness has entered a critical period with Joe Ledley warning that his former Wales team-mate must restrain himself in training.

Allen has not played since September 17 due to hamstring damage and time is running out to be fit for Wales’ World Cup opener against the United States on Monday.

The Swansea midfielder has mainly trained on his own away from the main squad, but Allen is so important to the way Wales operate that boss Robert Page is desperate for the 32-year-old to play a role in the tournament.

Austria v Wales – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying – Group D – Ernst Happel StadiumJoe Ledley (left) and Joe Allen (right) were midfield partners in the Wales team that reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016 in France (John Walton/PA)

It seems likely that the USA game will be too early for Allen to start in Doha, with the remaining group games against Iran and England more realistic targets for involvement.

Ledley won his own fitness battle at Euro 2016 to play alongside Allen, remarkably coming on as a substitute in the Slovakia opener just 35 days after breaking a bone in his leg.

“Back in 2016 they took me out when I was in doubt but I had more preparation than Joe,” said Ledley, who will be in Qatar as a Wales supporter this time around.

“The season was over, so I had a little over a month to get ready. I worked so hard, I was in the best shape I’ve ever been as a player.

“Unfortunately, Joe is in a similar situation at the moment. But I’m sure when he gets his opportunity he’ll be ready, although we’ll have to leave it to the medical staff to decide if he’s right.

“It was difficult trying to hold myself back, just as I was getting back to full fitness.

“Training with a broken leg was quite difficult, the last thing you wanted to do was get into a tackle and someone falls on it.

“Joe’s injury is a muscle injury, so it’s different. You don’t want to stretch too much in practice, but as soon as that whistle goes in a game situation, it all floats to the back of your mind.”

Allen’s potential absence means Ethan Ampadu will be deployed further to form a midfield partnership with Aaron Ramsey.

Netherlands v Wales – UEFA Nations League – Group 4 – Stadion FeijenoordEthan Ampadu will play a more advanced role for Wales in their World Cup opener if Joe Allen is unavailable (Tim Goode/PA)

Chris Mepham will line up alongside Joe Rodon and Ben Davies in central defence, with captain Gareth Bale, Kieffer Moore and Daniel James forming a three-man front line.

Ledley told S4C: “That first game of the tournament is crucial. If you lose it, you play catch-up and try to force yourself to get the win.

“USA is not an easy team to play against, they have fantastic individuals.

“It’s a tough start for the group but I don’t see why Wales can’t get through.

“This Welsh team has been to these big events before – and I see a similar unity and feeling in the group as we had in 2016. It played a big part in what we achieved.”

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