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Wales 'will be just fine' - Gunter

Chris Gunter believes Wales “will be just fine” as they look to respond to the disappointment of missing out on a place at Euro 2024.

Robert Page’s squad will watch this summer’s European Championship from afar following their agonising play-off defeat by Poland in March.

But Gunter is confident Wales can bounce back by qualifying for the next major tournament, just as they did after missing out on the 2018 World Cup.

“I think when the tournament kicks off, there’s going to be a week or two of thinking what if, which is natural,” said former Wales defender Gunter, who joined Page’s coaching staff in 2023.

“But the main thing for us is that feeling of disappointment that everybody will feel this summer, there’s no doubt that everybody will come back and be really hungry to make sure that at the next tournament, we will be there.

“We have done that in the past, when we missed out on the World Cup after 2016 and then bounced back, and that will be the aim for everybody involved.”

Gunter retired from Wales duty in March 2023 having won 109 caps and been to three major tournaments.

He was part of the squad who, having reached the semi-finals during an unforgettable run at Euro 2016, failed to reach the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

But Wales responded to that setback by qualifying for Euro 2020, then featured in the World Cup for the first time 64 years in Qatar in 2022.

Gunter says Page’s players will “still be hurting” following the Poland loss – when Daniel James’ penalty shootout miss proved decisive - as they meet up for friendlies against Gibraltar on 6 June and Slovakia three days later.

But the former right-back is convinced Wales’ squad has the quality to come through future qualifying campaigns despite the retirements of key figures like Gareth Bale and Joe Allen.

Chris Gunter consoles his former Wales team-mate Daniel James after his penalty miss proved decisive against Poland
Chris Gunter consoles his former Wales team-mate Daniel James after his penalty miss proved decisive against Poland [FAW]

“Of course everybody will talk about Gaz and Joe and players like that, but there are other players who have qualified for Euro 2020 and then the World Cup,” Gunter told BBC Sport Wales.

“Those players have really good experience and there are more now coming through. The expectation will be that we want to be in those tournaments because we have put ourselves in that position as country.

“There will be disappointment [this summer], but it gives a little bit of comfort to know that with the players who are in the current squad and the management, we will be just fine over the longer term.”

Gunter retired from club football two months after calling time on his Wales career.

The 34-year-old says he is “hugely appreciative” having been asked to join Page’s backroom staff at the start of Euro 2024 qualifying.

“Of course the disappointment of March still stings a little bit, but generally, for me personally the last 12 months has been really good,” Gunter added.

“I am really new to this side of things so my main focus at the minute is learning from everybody that I am around.”