Football: Gould's satisfaction

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The Independent Online
On the face of it a goalless home draw in a semi-deserted stadium is nothing to inspire anyone but Bobby Gould was accentuating the positive yesterday. Or least he was in every other aspect except dimensionally.

"After you have shipped seven and three, conceding no goals twice makes you happy," the Wales manager said reflecting on Tuesday's draw with the Republic of Ireland in Cardiff. "When you take into context that we were fielding four players either making their international or home debuts it was satisfactory.''

Wales new-found solidity after the 10-goal two-game demolition by the Dutch has come since Gary Speed, a winger with Everton, has played as a sweeper. A footballer whose performance has not always been in proportion to his gifts, he has excelled at the centre of things.

"He's more involved than when he's out wide," Gould said. "He's still in the position where he can't come out and play but it will come. There were one or two occasions against the Irish where you thought `here he comes' but it didn't materialise.''

Once Speed has the confidence to attack as well as defend it will help solve the Welsh problem of finding invention further forward. An appearance by Ryan Giggs would not be detrimental either.

"The one thing I have to re-address is the Ryan Giggs situation," Gould said. "That will be done privately, without the pressures of the media. If the feelings of the public have not got through to him they will be communicated.

"If Ryan Giggs is not going to play in friendly internationals then the world will be told. People will not be conned. We don't want the situation where people are asking for refunds because he isn't playing.''

If Giggs does return for next month's World Cup qualifier against Belgium then he might find the National Stadium in reduced circumstances. Wales are finding the Cardiff pitch too big and measures may be taken to reduce its size.