Ronaldinho recovers to boost Wales friendly

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The Independent Online

Tickets are available at the gate tonight for Brazil's friendly against Wales at White Hart Lane, which probably explains the South Americans' decision yesterday to announce that Ronaldinho has recovered from injury and will play.

The World Player of the Year sat out Sunday's impressive 3-0 victory over Argentina due to a bruised thigh but should add a few more to the attendance at Tottenham's ground where, so far, only 20,000 tickets have been sold.

The choice of venue is curious, especially with some Welsh supporters wondering why the fixture was not switched to the larger Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, where a sell-out would have been guaranteed.

But the match is a "home" fixture for Brazil who, after paying a fee to Spurs, will be able to earn more money by being the hosts. It is being played in London as part of an agreement reached with Europe's top clubs that their players will not be made to travel too far for friendlies.

Indeed, it is likely that the Brazilians will field a far stronger line-up than the Welsh, who are recovering from the disappointment of their late, controversial 2-1 defeat in their opening qualifier for Euro 2008 to the Czech Republic in Teplice on Saturday.

Their coach, John Toshack, confirmed yesterday that he will be using several youngsters in the match, including 17-year-old Southampton midfielder Gareth Bale, who is set to start. Bale already holds the record as his country's youngest full international and could be joined by David Cotterill, Lewis Nyatanga, both 18, and 19-year-old Joe Ledley.

Toshack said he was not concerned that his team may be exposed. "I am not bothering myself about being cannon fodder," he said, adding, "we have to get positives from every game we play. I am looking for options and competition for places. I have a lot of confidence in these youngsters, I know some of them are not ready yet and you can't expect them to be."

* The Republic of Ireland manager, Steve Staunton, will discover on Friday Uefa's punishment for his dismissal for kicking a water bottle in frustration at a refereeing decision during Saturday's defeat to Germany.

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