Toshack has time to build

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The Independent Football

A friendly against Liechtenstein at Wrexham in November is hardly calculated to set Welsh pulses racing but, as a bridge between Wednesday's reassuring 3-1 victory over Cyprus and the resumption of the Euro 2008 campaign next spring, it has assumed a fresh significance for John Toshack and his team.

The game at the Racecourse Ground and another friendly, a March date with Northern Ireland in Belfast, offer Wales a breathing space in which to build - without the pressure of obtaining points - on a convincing performance against Cyprus in Cardiff. Toshack has earmarked the next competitive games, away to the Republic of Ireland and home to San Marino, as opportunities to revive hopes of a respectable showing in Group D.

Reaching the finals already looks a fanciful proposition, with Germany at the head of the pack and the Czech Republic already asserting their quality. By beating the Cypriots, however, Wales have clawed back ground on the Czechs.

Wales will view the clash at Dublin's Croke Park with Steve Staunton's side as a chance to pit themselves against another team drawn from British clubs and therefore an eminently winnable match. Toshack must hope he can use the Liechtenstein and Northern Ireland games to develop the understanding between two strikers who supposedly could not play together, Craig Bellamy and Robert Earnshaw.

He will also seek to reunite Jason Koumas and Simon Davies, the creative axis against Cyprus, and further the experience of Lewis Price, 22, and Craig Morgan, 21, the goalkeeper and centre-back having excelled in their fourth and first caps respectively.

By next month, of course, Toshack may have a fit Ryan Giggs and John Hartson ready to resume his international career.

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