Official: Wales are now the 10th best team in the world according to Fifa rankings

The news has provided Gareth Bale's team with a massive boost to their World Cup qualification ambitions

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The Independent Online

Wales join England among among the top seeds for the 2018 World Cup qualifying competition after moving into the top 10 of the world rankings for the first time in history.

Wales' highest-ever Fifa position sees Chris Coleman's side ranked 10th in the world and England ninth, meaning both will be kept apart from each other and from the other top-ranked European sides in the draw.

It also means neither England nor Wales will be in the same group as Germany, Holland, Spain, Belgium, Portugal, Romania or Croatia. There is a chance however that either team could be drawn with Italy, who are only ranked 17th in the world currently.

The preliminary draw for the 2018 World Cup, which is being hosted by Russia, takes place in St Petersburg on July 25 at 1700 BST. FIFA has confirmed the 52 European countries will be split into seven groups of six teams and two groups of five teams.

England, along with other big names from Europe, will be in a group of six teams at the request of UEFA - probably in order to maximise television income. Hosts Russia will qualify automatically.

The winners of each group will qualify for Russia 2018, while the eight best group runners-up will take part in a play-off in November 2017.

A FIFA statement added: "It should also be noted that UEFA have requested that England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands must be drawn into a group containing six teams."

Scotland, ranked 29th in the world, and 37th-ranked Northern Ireland will be in the pot of third seeds for the draw. The Republic of Ireland, ranked 52 in the world, will be in the pot of fourth seeds.

PA

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