John Toshack, the Wales manager, has told his young squad not to be intimidated by Northern Ireland's growing reputation at Windsor Park tonight.
Toshack admits to being impressed by the Ulstermen's triumphs over Spain and England in Belfast, but he wants his experimental side to also remember the defeats that their hosts have suffered. Wales have experience of beating Lawrie Sanchez's side on their own turf, completing a thrilling 3-2 victory inspired by Ryan Giggs 16 months ago.
He said: "We are playing against people we know. Windsor Park, I agree, is not an easy place to play. They will tell you they have beaten Spain and England there, but they have also lost to Poland, Austria, Iceland and Wales and conceded 12 goals in the process. So we know it is a place where they can be turned over. That is what we will try and do."
Toshack is using the match to experiment ahead of the 2008 European Championship qualifying games against the Republic of Ireland and San Marino next month, but Giggs and the Liverpool striker Craig Bellamy are both set to start. The Southampton 17-year-old Gareth Bale should also play.
Sanchez, the Northern Ireland manager, has been hit by a raft of injuries. Key players such as David Healy, Chris Baird and Jonny Evans are all unavailable. The goalkeeper Roy Carroll, Stuart Elliott, Steve Jones and Warren Feeney are also absent.Reuse content