Wales captain Gareth Bale dismissed Italy coach Roberto Mancini’s comments likening the team to English club Stoke City and said they were ready to challenge them in Sunday’s European Championship meeting in Rome.

Mancini, who spent 3-1/2 years as Manchester City manager between 2009 and 2013, is fully aware of the physical demands of a trip to Stoke who were a top-flight team then.

Ahead of Sunday’s game, the Italian said Stoke had a very tough style of play and he expected a similar test from Wales, adding Bale’s side also possessed the technical skills to trouble his team.

Asked for his reaction to Mancini’s comments, Bale told a news conference: “I never knew Stoke were that good.”

Wales interim manager Robert Page said that he was not bothered by the comparison.

“We’re fully focused on what we can do and how we can hurt teams. As I’ve said, I couldn’t be more proud of that (squad of) 26 and I’ll back them every day of the week.”

Italy are through to the last 16 after two wins from as many games, while Wales are also unbeaten in Group A with four points ahead of the final round of matches.

“It’s going to be a big challenge. We have no doubt, even if that (unbeaten) record wasn’t there, Italy are a big footballing nation and always make games difficult,” Bale said.

“We’re under no illusions, it’s going to be a difficult game, but all we can do is plan, prepare and give it our all when we get on the pitch.

“… It’s difficult to say where the game would rank if we won but it would for sure be a proud moment for all of us. A great result for Wales and one we’re going to try and do.”

Wales will not be taking any half measures when they play Italy in their final European Championship group game and will look to beat the odds and seal all three points in Rome to top Group A, manager Rob Page said on Saturday.

Italy leads the group with a maximum of six points from two games while Wales are on four points after beating Turkey and drawing with Switzerland.

Wales will find beating the Azzurri at home on Sunday a Herculean task, however, with Roberto Mancini’s side having won their last 10 games without conceding a single goal.

“It’s a big challenge, they’re in great form. We’ve watched both games that they’ve played in the tournament so far and can’t be anything other than impressed by how they go about their work,” Page told reporters.

“It’s going to make for an entertaining game. We’re going to pick a team that will go out there and gives absolutely everything for Wales. We want to win the game and if we don’t finish top, we want second. We don’t want to limp across the line. We want to qualify in style and get where we deserve.”

Three Welsh players are on yellow cards – including defenders Ben Davies and Chris Mepham – and Page said he was wary of potentially losing players to suspensions ahead of the knockout stages.

“We’ve been here before in 2016 in the semi-finals and missed influential players and it’s affected them, that’s going to be in the thought process,” he added.

“But, like I said, more importantly, we’re playing against a very, very good Italian team that sometimes attack with seven players and defend with three. We’re going to have to take that into consideration.

“We have to suffer quite a bit without the ball. I think they’ve shown in the previous two games that they’re technically, absolutely very good.”

Aaron Ramsey has been a target of the Italian media this season for his performances, or lack of, with Juventus but Page said the midfielder was looking forward to the game after putting his injuries behind him.

“Aaron’s been outstanding. I’m really proud of him, for the shift he put in (against Turkey), tracking back and making tackles in the 18-yard box,” Page said.

“He’s got to another level for me, considering he’s not played as much as he would have liked. He’s come in and we’ve got into a level of fitness where he has performed physically and tactically.”