Wales star Ethan Ampadu admits he must improve his discipline fast or face World Cup heartache.
Ampadu is among eight Wales players heading into Saturday’s game against Belarus in Cardiff walking a disciplinary tightrope.
The 21-year-old defender and midfielder is a booking away from missing the final qualifier with Belgium through suspension – and his disciplinary record for Venezia this season makes for gloomy reading.
Ampadu, who is on a season-long loan from Chelsea, has picked up four yellow cards, as well as a red, in just six appearances in Italy’s Serie A.
“I seem to get yellow cards all the time,” said Ampadu, who was harshly sent off against Salernitana last month after appearing to win a 50-50 tackle against former France forward Franck Ribery.
“I am learning how to deal with different situations. I could have prevented that situation (with Ribery) and maybe not got a red card.”
Asked if learning involved how to sway referees, Ampadu – who was sent off against Italy at Euro 2020 last summer – said: “I’m not sure about that because I’m obviously not very good at it.
“Maybe that’s something I need to learn off these players, if that’s what they’re doing.”
As well as Ampadu, Aaron Ramsey, Chris Gunter, Harry Wilson, Joe Allen, Joe Morrell, James Lawrence and Sorba Thomas would miss the Belgium game by picking up a booking against Belarus.
Wales need four points from the two games to guarantee a World Cup play-off place in March, although their Nations League success means they are almost certain to be there anyway.
“I try not to think about yellow cards,” Ampadu said.
“If you go into a game thinking about a yellow card, you might not make a tackle and that might end up leading to a goal.
“So you just have to play the game as it is. I always seem to get yellow cards at the moment, so hopefully I don’t get one on Saturday.”
Despite his disciplinary issues, Ampadu has settled well in Italy following mixed loan spells at RB Leipzig and Sheffield United over the last two seasons.
Ampadu played a leading role in a 3-2 victory over Jose Mourinho’s Roma last weekend, setting up Venezia’s winner with a measured pass to David Okereke.
Ampadu said: “I’m enjoying it out there. We’ve had our ups and downs football-wise but the lifestyle is good. It’s not a bad place to live and be around.
“That was the reason to go there, to play games and develop as a player.
“Even in this short space of time, there are things I’ve learnt already and there are still plenty more things to learn.
“That’s the aim for the season, to become a better player.”
Having made his Wales debut at the age of 17, Ampadu has already won 30 caps.
Ampadu has reached that mark quicker than Wales’ two most-capped players, Chris Gunter and Gareth Bale with the latter set to make his 100th appearance against Belarus.
He said: “That’s probably the only thing I’ve got over them.
“It’s weird to say I’ve had 30 caps. I’ve got a very long way to go before reaching what they’ve done.
“We know Belarus is massive because it’s the next game and also because it will help us qualify for the World Cup, whichever path we go down.
“It’s in our own hands and we’ve spoken about it at the start of this camp.
“We all grew up as kids wanting to play in a World Cup and that’s what we want to do.
“Our focus is on winning every game we can to put us in the best position to get to Qatar.”
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