Collins injury boost lessens Welsh woes

The Wales and Aston Villa defender James Collins has escaped serious injury after apparently being elbowed in the face during Wales' 1-0 defeat away to Montenegro in their Euro 2012 qualifier on Friday night.

The 27-year-old was taken to hospital after a clash with Montenegro's Miodrag Dzudovic in the second half, but although he has a bad black eye he has not suffered a fractured cheekbone or broken nose, as the Wales manager, John Toshack, initially feared. Wales do not have a game this week, and Collins will return to Villa to be assessed by club doctors.

The pressure is building on Toshack, as Friday's opponents were regarded as the weakest in Group G, which also includes England, Switzerland and Bulgaria. "The next game at home, if we don't get the win that we need with the Bulgaria match [in Cardiff on 8 October] then we're virtually right up against it," said the Wales manager.

The former Wales striker Iwan Roberts believes Toshack is living on borrowed time. "Our optimism is gone in one game, I don't think there were any positives," Roberts told BBC Radio Wales. "Toshack has taken the squad as far as he can. He's been with them since November 2006 and have we progressed? I'm not too sure. I would say his position is untenable if we lose to Bulgaria; we have to get six points from the next two games."

The former Wales midfielder Mickey Thomas also sees the Bulgaria match as a watershed. "If Bulgaria doesn't go well then the pressure mounts and maybe his time is up. Only two men could change things around quickly – Ryan Giggs and [Wales Under-21 manager] Brian Flynn. That combination could get the Welsh team going."

In contrast, the Northern Ireland manager, Nigel Worthington, was in buoyant mood after his team ended a run of seven games without a goal by beating Slovenia 1-0 away in their Group C game in Maribor. He promised Italy "a hell of a game" in the next qualifier, at Windsor Park next month.

The Manchester United midfielder Corry Evans was the match-winner, scoring in the 70th minute, and 11 October cannot come quickly enough for Worthington, given Northern Ireland's home record against some of the top nations – England, Spain and Sweden have all been beaten in Belfast in recent years. Worthington said: "We have three points in the bag and a hell of a game coming up. We will make it that way.

"We had people running until they dropped so we could get the victory against Slovenia. That is what makes us hard to beat at times."

Northern Ireland also face Serbia, Estonia and the Faroe Islands in the group and Worthington added: "We have a lot of games to come so we have to be focused and very professional. If we do that we can get good results."

The Republic of Ireland also earned a hard-fought away win, against Armenia in Yerevan, Keith Fahey scoring in the 76th minute after coming on as a substitute eight minutes earlier, and their veteran goalkeeper Shay Given is confident they will not be the only side to find the going tough against their Group B opponents.

Asked if he expected the likes of Russia and Slovakia to be equally stretched, Given said: "I would hope so. I don't think there will be any teams who will go there and leave with an easy game, that's for sure.

"They have got some very good players and they caused us a lot of problems. But as a team, we stuck together and fought really well.

"We are really pleased with the way we have started. Hopefully we can get three points against Andorra on Tuesday night and that will set us up for next month, which is a tough month."

Russia at home and Slovakia away await the Republic in October. Given said: "We said before this game that if we have got ambitions to win the group, we had to get three points, and that's not an easy thing to do.

"People say, 'Armenia, you should beat them no problem', but I think teams will find it difficult. A clean sheet and three points, we are happy with that."

Suggested Topics
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
News
newsAstonishing moment a kangaroo takes down a drone
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'