Wales boss Rob Page has backed Tom Lockyer’s calls for people to learn CPR after his squad acquired lifesaving skills three months before their team-mate collapsed.

Lockyer suffered a cardiac arrest during Luton’s Premier League game at Bournemouth in December and his heart stopped for two minutes and 40 seconds.

The 29-year-old was saved as medics rushed to perform CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) and provide early defibrillation.

Wales defender Lockyer has since supported the British Heart Foundation’s campaign for people to learn CPR skills, as well as raise funds for lifesaving research.

“The medical team came in and we did the class,” Page said of his squad undertaking a CPR and defibrillator training course in September that would take on special significance three months later.

“Tom is championing it at the minute, and rightly so.

“It just shows that there’s more to life than football.”

Lockyer returned to the scene of his on-pitch cardiac arrest on Wednesday for Luton’s re-arranged meeting with Bournemouth.

The 16-times capped central defender met medics who helped save his life and admitted that he “got a little bit emotional”, while describing them as “heroes”.

Lockyer has since been fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator and conceded it is “out of his hands” if he will ever play again.

But he will be part of Wales’ preparations next week as they bid to qualify for Euro 2024 and a third successive European Championship.

Wales host Finland in a play-off semi-final in Cardiff next Thursday, with the winners at home to Estonia or Poland five days later to decide a place in Germany this summer.

Page said: “I’ve had a good conversation with Locks and he’ll be a part of it. We don’t know what days or for how long yet.

“But he’s keen to come in and we’re keen to have him around the lads.

“I can only imagine how hard it was for Meps (Chris Mepham), Kieffer (Moore) and Brooksy (David Brooks) when they played that fixture and saw their mate on the floor like he was.

“I can only imagine how hard it would have been for them.

“They’ve had contact straight after and they’ve been in touch since, but it’ll be nice to have them all back in the group together.

“Forget football, just being together as good mates is powerful for them.”

Wales are confident Liverpool striker Lewis Koumas will continue to play for them on the international stage and not change his allegiance to England.

Dual-qualified Koumas has been promoted to the Wales Under-21 set-up after being capped at U19 level and breaking in to the first-team picture at Liverpool.

The 18-year-old was an unused substitute in Liverpool’s Carabao Cup final victory over Chelsea and scored on his senior debut in the 3-0 FA Cup defeat of Southampton at Anfield last month.

Koumas’ father Jason was a full Wales international, winning 34 caps between 2001 and 2009 while playing for West Brom, Cardiff and Wigan.

But Koumas was born in Chester and Wales U21 coach Matty Jones said in October that England were “aggressively pursuing” the teenager.

“Absolutely. I’ve always got confidence with our young Welsh lads because when they initially have those experiences (being selected for age-group teams), they connect,” Jones said when asked if he was confident that Koumas would fully commit to Wales.

“The relationships we build, the due diligence we’ve done over the last six to eight weeks. I’ve had four visits to Liverpool and monitored Lewis’ performance.

“I’ve sat and had lunch with him, getting to understand him as a human being.

“To know how to best manage him, what makes him tick and also his threats and abilities he can pose for us as a team.

“The feedback from (manager) Rob Edwards with the exposure he’s had from the 19s has helped us as well.

“All that accumulates into one big package where he can hopefully come in with us and flourish.

“The opportunity is there but let’s not ignore the fact this squad is currently doing really well and there will be competition to get a place in the team.”

Wales play Lithuania in Newport on March 22 and are chasing qualification for the 2025 UEFA European U21 Championship in Slovakia.

The young Dragons trail group leaders Denmark on goal difference and currently occupy a play-off spot.

Wales manager Rob Page has resisted the temptation to invite Koumas into his full squad for now, although the proximity of training for the seniors and U21s at Hensol means the Liverpool youngster could be spending time with Aaron Ramsey and company in some sessions next week.

Jones said: “Lewis is a very ambitious young player and there’s no surprise why he’s excelling.

“The taste he’s had of senior exposure – he’s trained quite regularly with the first-team – has elevated him.

“They’ve taken a liking to him, everyone I’ve spoken to at Liverpool loves his self-confidence and his ability to drive at people and run.

“He’s developing on a daily basis, but the big thing is he can’t wait to come in.

“He’ll be joining us late after the Manchester United-Liverpool game on Sunday, but we couldn’t be in a better place.

“Hopefully there’ll be game time for him and an opportunity to show us what he’s about.”

Defenders Terence Miles (Liverpool) and Alex Williams (West Brom) also make their first appearances in an U21 squad for a double header that includes a friendly with an Olympics-bound Morocco U23 side in Antalya, Turkey, on March 26.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has emphatically ruled out the prospect of blue cards playing any part in a future sin bin trial.

The cards were set to be the signal which would be used by referees to show that a player had been temporarily dismissed in sin bin trial protocols which were due for publication on February 9, and had been signed off at a board meeting of the game’s lawmaking body, the International Football Association Board, earlier that week.

However, when reports about blue cards circulated on February 8 they received a largely negative reaction, and the IFAB pulled the plug on the day scheduled for publication, citing the need for further talks at the organisation’s annual general meeting this weekend.

On the eve of Saturday’s meeting in Loch Lomond, Infantino said: “There will not be any blue cards used at elite level. This is a topic that is non-existent for us.

“FIFA is completely opposed to blue cards. I was not aware of this topic. I’m the president of FIFA, and I think FIFA has a say in the IFAB. So, I don’t know if you want the title, ‘It’s red card to the blue card’!

“Every proposal and every idea has to be treated with respect, of course. But, once you look at it, you also have to protect the game, the essence of the game, the tradition of the game, and there is no blue card.”

The introduction of a blue card at the level initially envisaged in the trial would have been the biggest single change in the management of player discipline since the introduction of red and yellow cards at the 1970 World Cup.

It is understood the trial itself will continue to be developed, but it is expected it will now take place at a much lower footballing level than was anticipated by the original February 9 protocol, which was set to encourage applications from all but the very top-level competitions.

The Football Association, one of the five bodies which makes up the IFAB, had been understood to have been interested in running a trial in the men’s and women’s FA Cups in the future, before the furore around blue cards.

The trial will also require a new signal to be used instead of the blue card. In grassroots football, referees show a yellow card and point to the touchline.

There are also set to be further talks on Saturday about whether any sin bin trial should include tactical fouls, as well as dissent. Also under the original protocol, all players on the pitch, including goalkeepers, could be temporarily dismissed.

Sin bin trials were one of four protocols set for publication last month before the blue card story broke.

The IFAB is also seeking to trial allowing referees the option of creating a ‘captain-only zone’ around them when they feel threatened or intimidated, and a trial where referees can send teams to their respective penalty areas to cool off in the event of mass confrontations.

All of these, including the sin bin protocols, are ultimately intended to improve player behaviour at higher levels, something Infantino has said is essential to set the right example to young players and ensure people still feel safe, and encouraged, to be referees.

Another trial that had been set for publication on February 9 concerned how long goalkeepers can handle the ball, and how play should restart when they hold on too long.

Currently keepers can hold on for six seconds and anything over that is supposed to be penalised with an indirect free-kick, but lawmakers are concerned this is not being properly enforced which is why a trial has been developed.

The management of head injuries is also on the AGM agenda.

The World Leagues Forum and world players’ union FIFPRO have again written to the IFAB asking for permission to trial temporary concussion substitutes, something which was again rejected at last year’s AGM in London.

The player union and domestic league in Scotland, this year’s host nation for the AGM, are among those seeking the right to conduct such a trial.

“From our perspective, we have a responsibility to those former players who are sadly living with dementia,” PFA Scotland chief executive Fraser Wishart said.

“But we also have to take responsibility as a game – whether it’s the unions, leagues, the government bodies – for current players and future players, to minimise the chances, as much as we possibly can, of players getting dementia. We’re involved in this initiative because we do feel that temporary concussion subs are the next step forward.”

Trials of permanent concussion substitutes were first approved by the IFAB in December 2020.

Sweden midfielder Kristoffer Olsson is on a ventilator in hospital after collapsing at home due to a brain condition, his club Midtjylland have announced.

The 28-year-old, who had a spell at Arsenal as a teenager, has not appeared for the Danish club since December and there had been mounting speculation over his absence.

Midtjylland said in a statement on their official website: “In view of the increasing rumours and speculation that are circulating about the reason for Kristoffer Olsson’s absence in the recent period, we are forced to make this announcement to the public.

“The 28-year-old Swedish international lost consciousness in his home on Tuesday 20 February and was transferred to Aarhus University Hospital, where he has been admitted and on a ventilator.

“Kristoffer Olsson is affected by an apparently acute disease related to the brain, which is not caused by self-harm of any kind, nor is the cause due to external factors.

“A team of Denmark’s leading medical experts is currently working hard to make a diagnosis and initiate the right treatment.”

Midtjylland called for “respect and understanding” and added: “Everyone at FC Midtjylland is of course deeply affected by Kristoffer’s sudden illness and our thoughts and full support go to Kristoffer and his family.”

Arsenal wished Olsson, who has won 47 caps for his country, a “full and speedy recovery” on social media.

Olsson joined the Gunners from Swedish side Norrkoping aged 16 and made one senior appearance as a substitute in a League Cup game against West Brom.

He is currently in his second permanent spell with Midtjylland and has also had stints at AIK, Krasnodar and Anderlecht.

Roy Keane has indicated he could be interested in the vacant Republic of Ireland manager’s job as the search for Stephen Kenny’s successor continues.

Former Manchester United and Ireland skipper Keane served as Martin O’Neill’s number two during his five-year reign, and has admitted a return to the international set-up is something he might consider.

Asked about the vacancy on the Stick to Football YouTube show, the 52-year-old said: “International football, I enjoyed it when I was a coach.

“I liked the dynamics of it where you’re not in every day and it’s not about bringing players in and dealing with the board every week or the academy.

“Yeah, that does appeal.”

Keane is a man who continues to divide opinion in his native country, not only as a result of his premature return from the 2002 World Cup finals in the Far East after a bust-up with then manager Mick McCarthy, but also because of his forthright approach to management.

There is little doubt his return would be box office, just as his spell as O’Neill’s assistant was, but whether he is the man to rekindle Ireland’s on-field fortunes is a topic for debate.

The Football Association of Ireland opted not to hand Kenny a new contract following November’s friendly draw with New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium, which came in the wake of a disappointing Euro 2024 qualifying campaign.

England Under-21s coach Lee Carsley, who won 40 caps for Ireland, has been high on the FAI’s list since they launched the recruitment process, with another experienced former international, Chris Hughton, among the favourites to replace Kenny.

Hughton was not available when the job came up, but he is now after being sacked by Ghana following their failure to make it to the last 16 at the Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast.

It is understood the FAI hope to make an appointment before the Nations League draw in Paris on February 8.

Ireland are due to face Belgium and Switzerland in a friendly double-header in Dublin in March.

Ollie Watkins has praised Aston Villa head coach Unai Emery for helping him get back in the England squad.

The striker returned to the international scene for the first time since March 2022 and hit the only goal of the game as England beat Australia 1-0 in a Wembley friendly on Friday night.

Watkins, 27, has scored four goals and provided four assists in the first eight Premier League games of the new season – including a memorable hat-trick against Brighton.

He had scored just twice last campaign before Emery was appointed as Steven Gerrard’s successor in November but then hit 14 in 26 matches following the Spaniard’s arrival at Villa Park.

Asked how it felt to return to the England set-up following time out of the squad, Watkins said: “I think my mindset has changed since the boss has come in, Unai Emery at Villa.

“He’s filled me with a lot of confidence. I’ve definitely improved in these last 18 months since I was last in the England camp.

“I think it shows in my form and my performance here so I’m really happy and I’m delighted to be back in the squad and putting on an England shirt.

“I envisioned it all (playing and scoring against Australia). I was itching to get on the pitch so I’m delighted I got my goal and it helped the team to win.”

Realistically, Watkins is one of a number of forward options who will be vying to be the back-up to England captain and all-time record goalscorer Harry Kane at Euro 2024.

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Callum Wilson, Ivan Toney, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and newly-capped Eddie Nketiah are other strikers in Gareth Southgate’s pool but Watkins believes he is not a like-for-like replacement for Kane when he is given the nod.

“I think I’ve got a completely different playing style to Harry, he can drop deep and play some unbelievable long passes – that’s not my game. I can’t do that,” he added.

“My strengths are running in behind and stretching them so I can only do what I can do. When I put on the shirt I’ll try and do the best I can for my country and then it is the manager’s decision.”

Roy Keane announced his retirement from international football on this day in 2005 after the Republic of Ireland failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup.

The Manchester United captain walked away from the international stage after Ireland’s 0-0 draw with Switzerland which left them fourth in their qualifying group.

Keane’s decision was the second time he had retired from international football after his high-profile fallout with then manager Mick McCarthy in Saipon during preparations for the 2002 World Cup.

Keane returned under the management of Brian Kerr in 2004 and played his last game during a 1-0 defeat to France in Dublin a year later.

“Like all football supporters in the country, I am disappointed that the Republic of Ireland failed to qualify for the World Cup finals,” Keane said.

“Much as I would like to continue playing for my country, I feel the time has come to retire from international football and concentrate on domestic football for whatever is the remainder of my career.”

In November 2005, Keane left Manchester United by mutual consent, putting an end to a 12-year stay where he made 480 appearances.

Wales are in talks to play world champions Argentina.

Lionel Messi and company have been lined up as potential opponents for the Dragons with Wales keen to play Argentina in Cardiff or Patagonia, where thousands of Welsh emigrants settled in the 19th century.

“There is an ongoing discussion between us and them,” Football Association of Wales chief executive Noel Mooney said about a possible friendly between the two nations.

“We spoke to them in the last few days about playing in Cardiff.

“I met the Argentinian ambassador when he was in Cardiff talking to the Welsh Government.

“I used the opportunity to talk to him about the opportunity for Wales to go down to play in Argentina. He was excited by the idea, although he obviously he doesn’t decide who plays who.”

Wales have played only once at Cardiff’s 74,500-capacity Principality Stadium since 2011 – a friendly against former European and world champions Spain in October 2018 – and many Dragons’ fans dislike the idea of playing at the home of Welsh rugby.

But Wales will return to Principality Stadium should UK and Ireland win their bid to host Euro 2028 in Switzerland next month – and the Dragons qualify for the tournament.

The Principality Stadium is among 10 venues to be used across five nations should the UK and Ireland bid be successful.

Mooney said: “You’d have to assume we’d need to play some matches there before the competition to get spectators and players used to it.

“We haven’t thought that much about it, but what I can say is that we know who we’d like to play if we had to – World Cup winners Argentina.

“We may not be at the very top of their queue, but if you look at Patagonia and the relationship between the two countries it would be great. We’d love to do it.

“There is a connection and history between us and Argentina because of the Patagonian links and the Welsh people who settled there.

“I could feel from the Argentine ambassador that warmth they have behind Wales and I’d love to see Lionel Messi playing in Cardiff.”

Patagonia is at the southern end of Argentina – around 1,000 miles from the capital Buenos Aires – and in 2006 the Wales rugby team played at Puerto Madryn, a city founded by Welsh settlers in 1865.

Wales and Argentina have only met twice before, with their last fixture being a 2002 friendly at the Principality Stadium when Craig Bellamy scored in a 1-1 draw against the South Americans.

Rachel Daly feels the calendar in the women’s game needs to be looked at, describing the amount of games as “excessive”.

England boss Sarina Wiegman last week said the matter was something she was “very worried” about as she named her squad for matches against Scotland at home on Friday and the Netherlands away four days later in the inaugural Women’s Nations League.

The Lionesses’ World Cup campaign concluded with the final on August 20, and there have been Champions League qualifying fixtures since then.

Daly told a press conference: “I do think the calendar is something that does need to be addressed moving forward.

“You’ve seen a significant amount of injuries in the past year or so, which you can only think may be a part of the calendar and the excessive amount of games we have during the season, especially the girls playing in the Champions League as well.

“I do think it needs to be looked at and addressed in the future. But as of right now, we’re not in a position to minimise game time we’ve got, so we just have to tackle it head on right now and put ourselves in the best position physically and mentally to play.

“We’ve got to get straight back into it, with our clubs, internationally, and we’re all just ready to go again and focus on the upcoming Nations League.”

On the process of trying to get back to normality after what was the Lionesses’ first World Cup final, and saw Wiegman’s European champions beaten 1-0 by Spain, Daly said: “Probably the fact it wasn’t in our home country deterred a little bit of the emotion.

“I’ve bumped into people in the street who say how proud they are, it’s a nice feeling. Everyone knows we’re disappointed with how it turned out but we made the nation proud once again and that’s what we want to do.

“Everyone deals with it a little bit different. But here we are back at it again!”

England open their Group A1 matches in the new competition – via which they can secure Paris 2024 Olympics qualification for Great Britain – with a trip to Sunderland’s Stadium of Light to play a Scotland outfit whose dispute with their national association was resolved last week.

The team, captained by Daly’s Aston Villa team-mate Rachel Corsie, withdrew legal action against the Scottish Football Association over equal pay and treatment claims having secured what the centre-back described as “parity”.

Asked about that – as well as the saga involving the Spain team since their World Cup triumph – Daly said: “I think trust and open, honest conversations with federations is something that is massive in terms of growing the women’s game.

“For us as players and people we are always trying to strive for better and what’s right, not just for the players involved right now, but for the next generation and future for years to come.

“To have that platform is something I think probably gets overlooked, but it’s a place that you need to get to in order to petition for more, and what’s right and what we deserve.”

England’s players themselves are involved in an ongoing bonus payments dispute with the Football Association, and Daly said: “We parked that for the World Cup.

“I think people concerned of distractions – there were absolutely no distractions for us at the World Cup, and those conversations were parked.

“We have a great team in place to take those discussions further and I think we’re in a really positive place to achieve an outcome.

“We all want the same thing, the federation and the players want to come to the same agreement. The leadership group and the players that put themselves in front of those meetings are fantastic and do a great job, so I think we’re in a great place.”

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