Toshack confident Wales youngsters will perform

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The Independent Online

Both Wales and Germany pulled off impressive results in last month's friendly internationals, with Wales' 1-0 win in Bulgaria possibly even more eye-catching than Germany's 2-1 victory at Wembley against England.

To what extent those victories will influence the outcome when Wales host Germany tonight is unclear, but there is little doubt that John Toshack will need at least a repeat of his men's last performance if they are to extract anything from their Euro 2008 qualifier in Cardiff and maintain any hopes of reaching the finals next summer in Austria and Switzerland.

You only need look at the ages of some of Wales' players, such as goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey (20 years-old) and defenders Lewin Nyatanga (19) and Gareth Bale (18) to realise the task they face against a team that remains largely unchanged from their third place at the last World Cup and currently leads a group that sees Wales in fifth, seven points off second place. Germany, however, will be without midfielders Michael Ballack and Torsten Frings through injury.

Yet Toshack has faith in his youngsters while looking for his older players to take a lead on the pitch at the Millennium Stadium. The Wales manager said: "I have no worries about Wayne, none at all. He has done so well for us in recent games and his performance against Bulgaria last month was outstanding, he produced some wonderful saves to win us the match."

As for Spurs' left-back Bale, he added: "He may still be a baby in football terms but he has exploded on to the scene. He is not only one for our future, but he is without doubt the right man for the job now."

However, now he has to make do without Ryan Giggs, Toshack wants his left-sided successor, Jason Koumas, to prove his ability.

"Maybe when Ryan was around some of the lads were happy for him to take the lead, there was an aura around him," he explained. "We have had a chat about what I expect now from the senior players in the wake of Ryan's retirement.

"They have got to step up, and Jason can become a very important player for us now, and I'm pleased he is in the Premier League at Wigan.

"He should be approaching international maturity now and he has the creative ability to become a very influential player for us in the future.

"I am really looking forward to see how this very young side does against a genuine world power."

Toshack will at least be able to count on Craig Bellamy, despite the West Ham forward missing training yesterday when he had to go to hospital after his newly-born daughter developed feeding complications.

Wales (probable, 4-4-2): Hennessey (Wolves); Nyatanga (Barnsley), J Collins (West Ham), Gabbidon (West Ham), Bale (Tottenham); Davies (Fulham), Robinson (Toronto), Fletcher (Crystal Palace), Koumas (Wigan); Bellamy (West Ham), Eastwood (Wolves)

Germany (4-4-2): Lehmann; A Friedrich, Mertesacker, Metzelder, Pander; Odonkor, Trochowski, Hitzlsperger, Schweinsteiger; Klose, Podolski

Group D

Fixtures: Today: S Marino v Cz Rep, Wales v Germany, Slovakia v Rep of Ire; 12 Sept: Cz Rep v Rep of Ire, Slovakia v Wales, Cyprus v S Marino; 13 Oct: Rep of Ire v Germany, Cyprus v Wales, Slovakia v S Marino; 17 Oct: Germany v Cz Rep, Rep of Ire v Cyprus, S Marino v Wales; 17 Nov: Cz Rep v Slovakia, Germany v Cyprus, Wales v Rep of Ire; 21 Nov: Cyprus v Cz Rep, Germany v Wales, S Marino v Slovakia.

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