GARETH BALE was impossible for Wales to replace.
But ex-Dragons assistant boss Kit Symons reckons Robert Page’s new cycle can qualify for Euro 2024 without their superman.
Two Group D wins for Wales, starting today against Armenia in Yerevan before hosting Turkey in Cardiff on Tuesday night, will book a fourth major tournament in five attempts.
Symons was part of the backroom staff for the previous three finals but left his post after last year’s World Cup disappointment in Qatar.
Wales’ first World Cup since 1958 was also ex-captain Bale’s swansong.
The Welsh legend hung up his boots on a glittering international career which yielded a record 111 caps and 41 goals for his country.
But Symons reckons Page’s Euro dreamers can achieve success and reach the finals in Germany next summer.
Symons said: “Wales are capable of qualifying. It’s in their own hands. Armenia and Turkey are big games and it’s all to play for.
“You’d have expected us to beat Armenia at home but we didn’t and got taught a lesson. It was a really bad performance and result.
“But we can certainly beat them away from home. Can we beat Turkey? We’ve done that before so we can qualify.”
Bale’s final Welsh appearance came in the 3-0 group exit defeat to England almost a year ago.
But Symons, who was also Chris Coleman’s long-standing No2, has been encouraged by Harry Wilson, Kieffer Moore, Brennan Johnson and David Brooks sharing the attacking load.
Symons, 52, added: “We have found a different way of playing and being successful.
“Baleo has left and, while we have good players, there’s no superman to come in and score goals out of nothing for us.
“It’s impossible to replace Gareth. He was world-class, a talisman and even if he wasn’t having his best game he’d pop up with a moment of magic.
“It was incredible what he did for Wales and how he achieved it. It’s got to be a different way now and we have to share out the goals and assists.”
Page parted ways with Symons after the World Cup, which the ex-Fulham manager describes as a ‘fairytale’ as the Dragons qualified for a first global finals in 64 years.
Symons said: “I’m really disappointed about how I left because it was a brilliant job that meant a lot to me.
“But I also feel blessed. I’ve been the assistant manager three times now and been to three major tournaments.
“I had a brilliant time and was given great opportunities so I don’t have any regrets.
“As a player, we had near misses like the Romania game for USA ’94 so to qualify for the World Cup was a fairytale.
“We got to the tournament and the fairytale came to an end and reality hit home.
“We played really good sides, some of the players had been injured or weren’t fully match-fit and that took its toll. We couldn’t alter that.
“There wasn’t much we could have done to achieve different results.
“You’re on the biggest stage of world football and if you have any frailties or problems they get magnified and blown up.
“I still think Wales qualifying for a World Cup was a huge and monumental achievement.
“Of course, everyone was disappointed with the performances, apart from the second half of the USA game.
“But if you reflect and look at where we were and take into account the factors we were dealing with, it wasn’t that big a surprise.
“We had a group of players who had been incredible and quite a few of them were coming to the end of the cycle.
“Gareth and Joe Allen were so important for Wales and the way we played. When we played well, they were pivotal to it.
“I’m just really pleased they got a chance to play at a World Cup.
“Now it’s a different time and the start of another cycle. It will take time.
“Reaching the Euro 2016 semi-finals was incredible but we also lost 6-1 in Serbia with Baleo, Joe, Ashley Williams, the nucleus of the same team.
“People need to be patient, trust in the process and support what they believe in.”