Euro 2020: Welsh cakes, kick ups and ice baths - how Wales are training 3,000 miles away from home

How Baku - miles away from Cardiff - is playing host to the Wales squad, ITV News Correspondent Lucy Watson reports

They are nearly 3,000 miles from Cardiff but when you enter the Tofiq Bahramov Republican Stadium in Baku it is a home away from home for the national team.

The intense Azerbaijani heat may beat down on this Euro 2020 training camp outside, but inside you could be at the Principality Stadium.

It is covered in banners and posters and decked out with team mottos and slogans. This space has been taken over by the Welsh, and when you stand in it you get a sense why such a takeover is needed.

You want a national team - no matter how far away from their country and fans they are - to feel as much connected to them and that sense of pride as possible.

It's a real driver for the players. That spirit is what carried them along in Euro 2016.

Wales team including Captain Gareth Bale training at the Tofiq Bahramov Republican Stadium in Baku

To get all what the Wales team needs out to Azerbaijan has been no mean feat, and never more so than in the Covid-19 era.

It’s involved loading pieces of home into a lorry for six-day trek across Europe.

Those creature comforts are things like Welsh cakes, baked beans, flags and hats, numerous Covid tests, ice baths, heat presses, poles, hurdles, analytics cameras, a drone and that’s not to mention the players’ particular dietary requirements.

The Tofiq Bahramov Republican Stadium in Baku is covered with Wales' banners and slogans. Credit: ITV News/Lucy Watson

Gareth Bale is vegan and many others are vegetarian so there are nutritional shakes and supplements and medicines to pack too.

Planning for these extraordinary European Championships has been a challenge, and will continue to be so for the duration of the tournament.

This is the Euros in the Covid-era. The players only have each other for company.

They must exist entirely in a bubble together, and are only allowed at the training camp, in their hotel or at the Olympic stadium for their matches.

They have had to hire out two floors of their hotel. One is where they all sleep, the other is where they have space to meet and relax. Really, it’s simply somewhere else to go because they can’t roam free.

ITV News Correspondent Lucy Watson explains how players in the Wales team are living and training in a bubble together

On the roof of their hotel, there is a swimming pool which they need to book out for the team for an hour each day because they can’t mix with other guests and it must be sanitised before they arrive.

It is this level of care they must take to keep them all Covid-free and fit.

The stadium was named after the linesman who awarded Geoff Hurst a goal for England against West Germany in 1966. Credit: ITV News/Lucy Watson

But, all their big guns are here, fit and healthy and ready to get going.

The Red Army when they come will be depleted, but there are still up to 700 people expected to journey here to lift this team.

Euro 2016 was history-making. Euro 2020 has not and will not be easy.