Football / World Cup: Giggs adding the glitter: Wales strike out in search of victory while the two Irelands prepare for a frenetic meeting

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The Independent Online
THE young player of the year fully deserves his stage after five games as an international star-in-waiting, but accommodating Ryan Giggs into a Welsh team who must beat Belgium in Cardiff tonight is not as simple and as straightforward as it would seem.

Incorporating Giggs into Terry Yorath's favoured sweeper system might on the face of it unbalance the side. He is, after all, one more jewel to add to a celebrity club that already includes the attacking talent of Ian Rush, Dean Saunders, Mark Hughes and Gary Speed and the likelihood is that Speed will have to make do and mend as a full-back-cum-midfielder, possibly at the expense of David Phillips, who has been highly influential in Norwich's charge to the championship. Kevin Ratcliffe seems certain to return as sweeper for his 59th cap.

Yorath, the Welsh manager, preferred yesterday to keep secret his Arms Park line-up until just before the start, leaving his World Cup opponent, Belgium's Paul Van Himst, to stir the Welsh pot of conjecture. Conceding that the Manchester United youngster is a 'good player and a good dribbler', Van Himst nevertheless said he was 'not unhappy at Giggs's inclusion. Wales will have three forwards so they must drop a midfielder and that means they will take risks and put themselves in danger of a goal on the break.'

As the manager of a nation boasting six wins out of six, Van Himst can afford to take pleasure in the Welsh deliberations. The onus is on the hosts to make good a difficult qualifying position and convince the sceptics that this time they really are accomplished enough to beat Romania (three points ahead having played a game more) and Czechoslovakia to second place.

'I don't want to think about the consequences of defeat,' Yorath said. 'We have to be positive and go into it thinking and knowing we can win.'

Belgium, unchanged after their 2-0 victory over his team in Brussels, have Yorath's admiration but he says Wales have the extra ingredient, the Ryan Giggs factor. 'It is the one factor which could win us the game because the Belgians don't know a lot about him.'

----------------------------------------------------------------- WORLD CUP GROUP FOUR ----------------------------------------------------------------- P W D L F A Pts Belgium. . . . . . . . . . . .6 6 0 0 12 1 12 Romania. . . . . . . . . . . .5 3 1 1 17 4 7 Czechoslovakia . . . . . . . .4 1 2 1 7 4 4 Wales. . . . . . . . . . . . .4 2 0 2 8 7 4 Cyprus . . . . . . . . . . . .6 1 1 4 4 10 3 Faroe Islands. . . . . . . . .5 0 0 5 0 22 0 -----------------------------------------------------------------

WALES (probable): Southall (Everton); Speed (Leeds), Bodin (Swindon), Young (Crystal Palace), Ratcliffe (Cardiff), Aizlewood (Bristol City), Horne (Everton), Saunders (Aston Villa), Rush (Liverpool), Hughes, Giggs (Manchester United).

BELGIUM: Preud'homme (Mechelen); Medved (Ghent), Grun (Parma), Albert (Anderlecht), Smidts (Antwerp), Staelens, van der Elst (both Club Bruges), Boffin (Anderlecht), Scifo (Torino); Degryse (Anderlecht), Czerniatynski (Antwerp).

Referee: A Schmidhuber (Germany).