Toshack desperate to claim England scalp

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The Independent Football

John Toshack once helped knock England out of a major tournament as a player and now he is hoping to do the same as a manager.

Thirty-three years have passed since Toshack was part of a Wales team whose efforts did so much to ensure Poland reached the World Cup in Argentina rather than the Three Lions.

The odds are stacked against a repeat, particularly as the Group G runners-up are guaranteed a Euro 2012 play-off.

But Toshack is eager to do his bit after Wales and England were paired together in a group that also contains World Cup qualifiers Switzerland, plus Eastern European duo Bulgaria and Montenegro.

"I did play against England in a World Cup qualifying group a long time ago when there was just three countries, us two and Poland," recalled Toshack.

"Poland got through on that occasion and while things are a little different now, the rivalry with England remains and we will give it a go."

Toshack will rely on some of the youngsters who performed so impressively for the Wales Under-21 side against England last season.

In front of nearly 25,000 at Villa Park, England were forced to cling on against a Wales line-up containing Aaron Ramsey and Jack Collison to secure a 5-4 aggregate win that earned them a place at the European Championship Finals.

The pair are now part of a Wales senior set-up that also contains Joe Ledley, Simon Church and David Edwards, giving Toshack five high-class youngsters to build a team around.

Unfortunately, other key men, including Gareth Bale, have not been getting regular starts at club level, which Toshack feels is handicapping his efforts to steer Wales back up the rankings.

"Other managers have never been a problem for me - I just wish they would pick these lads a bit more," he said.

"Hopefully when the qualifying matches come around they will be getting a regular game because it is very difficult to do well in these groups when the majority of your squad is coming from the Championship.

"They try but it is not easy so we need the lads with Premier League clubs to play to stand a chance of getting anywhere."

Although Toshack did hint at the possibility of getting England to play at one of the new stadia in Cardiff and Swansea where a pretty intense atmosphere can be guaranteed, the Welsh FA are virtually certain to host that contest at the Millennium Stadium to maximise income.