Wales manager, Chris Coleman, announced yesterday his squad for the two upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Scotland at Hampden Park on March 22nd and Croatia at the Liberty Stadium on March 26th.
One of the big surprises was the inclusion of Liverpool’s Joe Allen after it was revealed this past weekend that the midfielder would have to undergo surgery to fix a recurrent shoulder injury. The injury, which Allen suffered when playing rugby at the age of 15, meant he underwent a similar operation when he played for Swansea which kept him out of action for four weeks.
“At some stage he’s going to have to have surgery,” Coleman said. “But at no time have we been told or has anybody said he’s not available so of course if that was the case we wouldn’t pick Joe. I totally respect Brendan and Liverpool and I think we’ve always tried to work with clubs because at the end of the day they’re not our players. We’re only borrowing them really.”
The operation will result in the former Swansea man missing up to 12 weeks of football and with Liverpool keen to have Allen, who celebrates his 23rd birthday today, fully fit by the start of preseason but as of yet there has been no date set for the surgery.
Another player that is struggling to be fit for Wales’ two crucial qualification games is Celtic’s Adam Williams who has a hamstring strain.
“Obviously Adam’s played for Celtic in Scotland so it would have been a great game for him so it’s a shame,” Coleman said. “He really is developing into a fine young player so it’s disappointing. We know he’s definitely not available for the first game but the second one there’s a bit more time so we’ll have to wait and see… depending on the grade of the injury on his hamstring 3 or 4 days could make all the difference but at the minute we have to look at it that he’s going to be unavailable.”
Coleman’s squad is boosted, however, by the return of West Ham defender James Collins who returns to the squad having recovered from a hamstring problem that kept him out of the previous squad.
“We’ve not had him,” Coleman said. “He got sent off against Belgium so he missed the next few games then he got injured so we’ve not had him. But it’s nice to have him back. I watched him a week or ten days ago up at Stoke and he was outstanding so it will be good to have James back in the squad.”
Also included in the squad is Crystal Palace midfielder Jonathan Williams who will be hoping to gain his first cap for the national side. Coleman rejected, however, that he was bringing along Williams for the experience and was expecting every one of his squad members to contribute over the next two games.
“We’re not going up to Scotland for a good day out, sing the national anthem and enjoy it, we’re going for points. Simple as that,” Coleman insisted. “We’re going up there to get three points. It’s an important game, it’s a huge game for us so I’m not picking anybody that I think I’ll just give a bit of experience. It’s not a friendly, it’s a game we’re playing for points. Anybody in the squad has got a chance of playing and I trust them and if they have to play, I trust that they’ll do a good job for us.”
Wales currently lie in fifth place in Group A halfway through the qualification campaign for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Full squad: Goalkeepers: Glyn Myhill (West Bromwich Albion), Lewis Price (Crystal Palace), Owain Fôn Williams (Tranmere Rovers)
Defenders: Ben Davies (Swansea City), James Collins (West Ham United), Chris Gunter (Reading), Joel Lynch (Huddersfield Town), Ashley Richards (Loan Crystal Palace), Same Ricketts (Bolton Wanderers), Ashley Williams (Swnasea City)
Midfielders: Joe Allen (Liverpool), Jack Collison (West Ham United), Andy King (Leicester City), Joe Ledley (Celtic), Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal), David Vaughan (Sunderland), Jonathan Williams (Crystal Palace)
Attackers: Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur), Craig Bellamy (Cardiff City), Simon Church (Reading), Steve Morison (Leeds United), Hal Robson-Kanu (Reading), Sam Vokes (Burnley)