Pain Of Wayne
Sending-Off Means This Could Be The End
There could have been a better epitaph than this for Wayne Hennessey.
Two late Iranian goals and now three days to mull over the possibility that his time in international football might have been ended by the red card brandished by a Guatemalan referee.
The former Wolves goalkeeper has to sit out tomorrow’s all-or-nothing game against England and must be wondering whether he is going to have another chance on the biggest stage.
Even if his countrymen progress to the knockout phase – and we have no doubt he will lend his experience around the squad to help coax one more big effort out of them – will he be guaranteed a recall beyond this week?
There must be half a chance that, if they bring down Gareth Southgate’s men, his replacement, the much younger Danny Ward, will play out of his skin and perhaps start a clamour for a regular place anyway.
It’s remarkable that Hennessey, who departed on Friday with the score at 0-0 a few minutes from the end, has clung on to his Welsh starting spot in the last season or two, considering his acute lack of game time.
His only two senior appearances this season before touching down in Qatar had been in the Carabao Cup for Nottingham Forest.
He has spent the rest of 2022-23 so far keeping the bench warm and watching the excellence of on-loan Manchester United man Stephen Henderson, who has emerged very much as Forest’s preferred guy for their return to the Premier League.
So, even if Wales follow up this first World Cup finals appearance for 64 years by making it to Germany for the 2024 European Championship finals, can Hennessey really expect to be there, given that he will turn 37 during the tournament?
His recent career choices appear more to have been about clinging on to Premier League football than ensuring he plays regularly again.
He played only three times for Burnley last term and once for Crystal Palace the season before that, yet Rob Page has stayed loyal to him
The manager is no doubt mindful of the continuing high standards he has shown for his country, including major tournament finals of the past. However lengthy his spells of inactivity might have been in between, his Welsh form has remained outstanding, so we can only hope the long-time former Wolves keeper does have another curtain call in him at this elite level.
Then, after almost 110 caps and a recent admission that his international place was now under threat, it will presumably be over to the 29-year-old Ward, a man Mike Stowell coaches on a daily basis at Leicester.