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Wales take on Iceland in pre – Euro friendly

Wales take on Iceland in a not-so-friendly encounter

Wales take on Iceland in a not-so-friendly encounter


Wales go into tomorrow night’s friendly against Iceland looking for a win to boost their confidence for the forthcoming European Championship qualifying campaign.

Arsenal star Aaron Ramsey will not play having been omitted from the squad because of injury.

The midfielder has been on the sidelines since Boxing Day with a thigh problem and is not expected to return until later this month.

Sunderland’s David Vaughan, currently on loan at Championship side Nottingham Forest, is also out injured.

But Wales’s hopes have been boosted by the selection of the world’s most expensive footballer, Gareth Bale, who is named in manager Chris Coleman’s 23-man squad.

The Cardiff-born forward has scored 14 goals in 24 matches for Spanish giants Real Madrid so far this season.

However, it remains to be seen if Coleman will risk including the star in his starting line-up, as the opposition will undoubtedly target him as Wales’s main threat.

The former Tottenham man has only featured in two of Wales’s last six internationals.

It is still uncertain whether captain Ashley Williams will have recovered from illness in time to start tomorrow (Wednesday) night after he was sick on the pitch during Swansea’s 1-1 draw against Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Palace midfielder Joe Ledley is the most capped player in the squad and would be the most obvious replacement as captain if Williams misses out.

Manchester City youngster Emyr Huws, currently on loan at Birmingham City, has been included in the squad and could earn his first cap, having been an unused substitute in Wales’s last match, a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Finland last November.

Huws, whose sole appearance for Manchester City was as a substitute against Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup in January, has represented Wales at under-17, under-19 and under-21 level.

Ramsey’s absence could see Huws take his place in the starting line-up to secure his first cap for the senior team tomorrow night.

The 20-year-old has impressed during his loan spell at Birmingham City and joins West Ham’s James Collins in the squad, having appeared to patch up his differences with Coleman.

Striker Sam Vokes, 24, will hope to start having enjoyed an impressive season so far, scoring 18 goals to help Burnley climb to second in the Championship.

The Bournemouth academy product has fond memories of playing against Iceland, having made his debut the last time these two teams faced each other in Wales’s 1-0 win in Reykjavik in 2008.

His inclusion in the starting line-up to face Iceland seems to be a certainty after Charlton striker Simon Church sat out of training yesterday (Monday) because of injury.

Wales have a good record against tomorrow (Wednesday) night’s opposition, having won four and lost just one of their six meetings, but Iceland currently sit three places above Wales in the FIFA world rankings.

Iceland finished second in their World Cup qualifying group, but lost in the play-offs to Croatia – who were runners-up in Wales’s group.

Wales finished a disappointing fifth in their group but they are unbeaten in their last three matches having won at home against Macedonia, and drawn away at Belgium and at home against Finland.

The game against Iceland is the start of Wales’s build-up for the team’s Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, and will be their only match until going away to the Netherlands for a friendly on June 4.

Wales found out their opponents in their quest to reach Euro 2016 last Sunday, with Belgium and Bosnia the standout names.

They will also face Israel, Cyprus and Andorra in Group B, and will begin their campaign at home to the latter on September 9.

The Euro 2016 finals being made up of 24 nations, an increase from the current format’s 16 nations, has boosted the hopes of the Welsh to reach their first major tournament since the World Cup in 1958.

Wales v Iceland kicks off at 7.45pm tomorrow (Wednesday) night at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Wales’s 23-man squad to face Iceland tomorrow (Wednesday):

Wayne Hennessey (Crystal Palace), Glyn ‘Boaz’ Myhill (West Bromwich Albion), Owain Fon Williams (Tranmere Rovers); James Collins (West Ham United), Ben Davies (Swansea City), Daniel Gabbidon (Crystal Palace), Chris Gunter (Reading), Adam Matthews (Celtic), Ashley Jazz Richards (Swansea City), Sam Ricketts (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Neil Taylor (Swansea City), Ashley Williams (Swansea City); Joe Allen (Liverpool), Jack Collison (West Ham United), Emyr Huws (Manchester City – on loan at Birmingham City), Andy King (Leicester City), Joe Ledley (Crystal Palace), Jonathan Williams (Crystal Palace – on loan at Ipswich Town); Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Simon Church (Charlton Athletic), Jermaine Easter (Millwall), Hal Robson-Kanu (Reading), Sam Vokes (Burnley).

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