The challenge now facing 'fantastic' Sheffield United star after his World Cup dreams were dashed

Rhys Norrington-Davies has been praised for his "fantastic" attitude since seeing his World Cup dream dashed by injury - and challenged to help ensure that Wales qualify for more major tournaments in the future.
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The Sheffield United youngster's hopes of making Rob Page's squad for Qatar were dashed last month when he suffered a serious hamstring injury away at Coventry, which will keep him out for months.

It is a huge blow for both the Blades and the player, who was showing his best form since breaking into the first-team picture and an almost certainty to make former United defender Page's squad.

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"He's put a brave face on; he's been fantastic around the players and really good in and around the place," Heckingbottom told The Star. "Straight away, he was at the next game and in the dressing room with the lads. He's been fantastic.

"But I know it's a brave face. When I'm chatting with him, he knows he's got to be positive now. There's no point looking back. We've had a chat about some new goals and targets, long-term and short-term, and it's important he works towards those.

"If you look at where he was a year ago to now, totally different. Totally different. And that's what I've been reminding him. The conversations we've had this time last year, to the ones we're having now. Even though it's tough, because he's just missed out on a World Cup, he can take a lot of satisfaction out of that."

Wales' defender Rhys Norrington-Davies (L) vies with Poland's striker Robert Lewandowski: GEOFF CADDICK/AFP via Getty ImagesWales' defender Rhys Norrington-Davies (L) vies with Poland's striker Robert Lewandowski: GEOFF CADDICK/AFP via Getty Images
Wales' defender Rhys Norrington-Davies (L) vies with Poland's striker Robert Lewandowski: GEOFF CADDICK/AFP via Getty Images

Wales are preparing for their first World Cup appearance in 64 years and only their second-ever since the tournament began, but Norrington-Davies has been challenged to help his country reach more major tournaments in the coming years.

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"It's football," Heckingbottom, who has seen No.2 goalkeeper Adam Davies selected in the Wales squad, added. "The blow for Rhys is what's making it tough but it should give him the hunger and the drive. In his mind, it should be like: 'When's the next one?' All he can do is put himself forward and try and help him get to another one. But that's the tough one, where I really feel for him."