St Pauli FINALLY agree to release James Lawrence for Wales’ World Cup qualifier with Czech Republic after caretaker boss Robert Page claimed both the German FA and FIFA were on their side in dispute over Covid rules
- Wales demanded that St Pauli release James Lawrence to play on Tuesday night
- Defender returned to Hamburg because Covid rules prevented travel to UK
- But Wales claimed a change in rules mean Lawrence should be released to play
- On Sunday, Bundesliga 2 side confirmed that Lawrence could rejoin the squad
- Caretaker boss Robert Page said German FA and FIFA were on Wales’ side
St Pauli have agreed to release defender James Lawrence for a crucial World Cup qualifier against the Czech Republic after Wales demanded he be allowed to play.
Lawrence played in Wales’ opening 2022 World Cup qualifier on Wednesday, the 3-1 defeat by Belgium in Leuven.
But the 28-year-old then returned to Hamburg as local Covid-19 quarantine regulations in Germany prevented him from travelling to the UK.
St Pauli have agreed to release James Lawrence for Wales’ clash with Czech Republic
Caretaker boss Robert Page believes German FA and FIFA were both on Wales’ side in dispute
Lawrence missed Wales’ 1-0 friendly win over Mexico in Cardiff on Saturday night.
But after Wales insisted the eight-times capped defender should be released for Tuesday’s Cardiff clash with the Czechs – because quarantine regulations were eased in Germany – the Bundesliga 2 side finally relented.
On Sunday afternoon, St Pauli tweeted: ‘James #Lawrence has been cleared by the local health authorities to travel to Wales today to hook up with the national team ahead of Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Czechia (20:45 CET).’
Before Lawrence was released, Wales caretaker manager Robert Page said: ‘It’s difficult. We’ve got the German FA on our side, we’ve got FIFA on our side.
‘We just need the club to release him. We’re still in dialogue with the club and we’re trying to get him back involved in the group.
‘That’s something again we’ll be doing again overnight. It’s just a case of the club releasing him.
Lawrence played for Wales against Belgium before returning to Hamburg due to regulations
‘We’re protected by it (the regulations). The German FA has no issues with it and FIFA has said yes.
‘There’s no reason why we shouldn’t have him in and, as I say, we’re in dialogue with the club.’
Page said Wales also plan to speak to Lawrence on Sunday about returning to the squad.
‘We wanted it done ASAP, done by tomorrow morning. We’ll keep on pursuing it and everyone’s backing us,’ Page had stressed before Lawrence’s release was confirmed.
‘We’ll speak to James again to see how quickly we can get him in.
Lawrence will now travel to Cardiff to rejoin his international team-mates for their next game
‘If it’s Monday, it’s Monday, but ideally we’re on the (training) pitch again on Sunday and planning has already started for Tuesday’s game.
‘The (local) government at the time wouldn’t allow him to come to the UK.
‘But restrictions have eased now and it should be no different now to what it was before the Belgium game. We just need the club now to give us the nod to bring him over.’
Wales celebrated Chris Gunter’s 100th cap – the country’s first male player to reach that landmark – with a hard-fought victory over Mexican opponents ranked ninth in the world.
Kieffer Moore’s close-range 11th minute winner, his fifth goal in 13 Wales appearances, proved the difference on a night when Page changed the entire side from the Belgium defeat.
Chris Gunter celebrated his 100th cap for Wales in a tight win over Mexico on Saturday
Gunter said: ‘It was enjoyable in parts, it was a tough game.
‘It was a special night for me and with a clean sheet and a victory. It’s one I can look back on with a lot of pride.
‘The team were good all over the pitch and it was a perfect evening for me.
‘The amount of support and nice messages I’ve had has been incredible really.
‘It won’t sink in for a long time and I don’t think there’s a happier man in the world right now.’