'Old enemy' in for shock, says Flynn

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The Independent Online

Brian Flynn reckons his Wales Under-21s have a surprise in store for England. Flynn believes England will be shocked not only by the passion and quality of his young side, but also the intimidating atmosphere of a sell-out Ninian Park.

Wales are the underdogs in tonight's Uefa Championship play-off first leg against Stuart Pearce's England Under-21 side in Cardiff. Having sprung a surprise by finishing ahead of France to top their qualifying group, Wales now must produce a couple of similar performances if they are to reach next summer's finals in Sweden at England's expense. Flynn, the man responsible for the flow of teenage talent into John Toshack's seniors, insists a shock is on the cards. He said: "Ninian Park, when it is full, is a very special place – an intimidating venue for the opposition. It is a fantastic ground for the home team to play, a perfect venue. The bigger the challenge the better we are. We are rarely favourites but we reached a point in the group when we were expected to win. This is definitely a generation of young Welsh players who will qualify for a senior finals in the future. Don't forget that we have already beaten France at Ninian Park, and we can do the same to England."

Flynn will have Arsenal's talented 17-year-old Aaron Ramsey as the key to his midfield, alongside West Ham's Jack Collison. The Reading striker Simon Church, on loan to Wycombe, will lead the attack. But that is it for Premier League experience in Flynn's ranks. Flynn has been denied players such as Gareth Bale, Chris Gunter, Wayne Hennessey, Ched Evans and Sam Vokes, who will all be in the senior squad to face Liechtenstein tomorrow in a World Cup qualifier.

Under such circumstances you would expect Wales to be bitterly disappointed they have to run into England at this stage. But Flynn countered: "I was delighted with the draw, I don't see it as a bad one because it is England. There's always a bit extra about playing the old enemy. And we have already played them in a friendly in May. They beat us 2-0 and we did pretty well. Now we face them again, I'm delighted with the draw and I am really looking forward to it."

Wales look to improve

Wales Under-21s have never reached the European Championship finals; their best performances came in qualifying for the 1996 tournament, when they finished third behind Bulgaria and Germany.

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