Hughes will continue as Wales manager

Mark Hughes has broken his silence and insisted he will continue as the Wales manager, and the former Manchester United player will be travelling to Frankfurt next week for the World Cup 2006 qualifying draw.

It has taken Hughes a week to make his announcement following Wales' exit eight days ago in the Euro 2004 play-off tie with Russia in Cardiff.

Speculation about his future increased when he failed to attend a Football Association of Wales international committee meeting last Friday. Hughes has continually been linked with club jobs including Spurs, Southampton and , Blackburn, as well as the No 2 role at Old Trafford, but yesterday - in a BBC Wales interview - he confirmed he will lead his country into the 2006 World Cup campaign.

Hughes said: "My situation has not changed, I am still Welsh team manager. It was so disappointing last week, everyone just needed to go away and take stock, but now we must look forward not back.

"You have to dust yourself down and go again. We have made great strides in a short space of time, we can compete at the highest level and have a lot of young players who will be better for the experience.

"I never comment on speculation because that is often all it is. If the fans, who we must thank for their wonderful support, can bear with us we will regroup, come again and give them lots more to cheer about in the future."

Hughes' first task now as he plots another campaign will be to witness the World Cup draw and then to arrange build-up friendlies next year.

He said: "It is important we get the right quality opposition, and after the World Cup draw we will have a better idea of the friendlies we would like to arrange.

"I would imagine there are some decent fixtures out there as teams look to build for the European Championship."

The FAW secretary general, David Collins, is delighted Hughes has finally spoken out to dispel doubts about his immediate future.

"I can understand the huge disappointment of the nation. Not getting to Portugal is felt by us all, but we have taken a massive step forward in the last 18 months."

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