Pavlyuchenko threat to Wales
Wednesday 10 September 2008
It was difficult to tell who was the more frustrated at the news that Roman Pavlyuchenko will be appearing in Moscow tonight in Russia's World Cup qualifier against Wales – Tottenham or John Toshack. While the former saw a written plea rejected for their new £14m striker to be rested because of what they claim is an ankle injury, the latter would have simply been bemoaning that Guus Hiddink will enjoy a near full-strength squad, while his own is drastically depleted.
Monday brought yet another defection from Toshack's ever-shrinking troops when Paul Parry 'retired' from international football complaining of "making up the numbers", despite the Cardiff forward being guaranteed a starting place in Wales's second qualifier. With Craig Bellamy still sidelined and Jason Koumas also ruled out after the weekend's 1-0 win over Azerbaijan, it means that Toshack will likely ask Ched Evans, the 19-year-old Manchester City striker, to play the lone role in attack.
Although Wales came very close to beating Russia in the Euro 2004 play-offs, anything but a defeat will be a major fillip for Toshack.
Alongside Andrei Arshavin, Pavlyuchenko will be the most obvious danger, although Spurs will really wish Wales were being spared. Hiddink was almost contemptuous towards the north London club's appeal yesterday. "Spurs did send us a letter suggesting that he did not play, but our medical staff say he is healthy," said Hiddink.
"He must give everything for the national side and only after the match will he consider his obligations to Spurs. There is always the fear of injury. People can fall down the steps! But you should not sign big players if you do not want them to play."
Meanwhile, former Tottenham striker Sergei Rebrov has warned Pavlyuchenko about life in north London. Rebrov claimed many residents living near White Hart Lane were "dark skinned" and there was a lot of crime as a result. He also said Pavlyuchenko should avoid walking around at night if he wanted to avoid being a "robbery victim".
Wales probable (4-5-1): Hennessey (Wolves); Gunter (Spurs), Morgan (Peterborough), A Williams (Swansea), Bale (Spurs); Davies (Fulham), Fletcher (Crystal Palace), Robinson (Toronto), Edwards (Wolves), Ledley (Cardiff); C Evans (Manchester City).
Results: Liechtenstein 0 Germany 6; Wales 1 Azerbaijan 0.
Wales' remaining fixtures: Today Russia (a); 11 Oct Liechtenstein (h); 15 Oct Germany (a); 28 March 2009 Finland (a); 1 April Germany (h); 6 June Azerbaijan (a); 9 Sept Russia (a); 10 Oct Finland (a); 14 Oct Liechtenstein (a).
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