Wales' World Cup qualifier against Russia in Cardiff this evening may be deemed as irrelevant by all those west of Moscow but John Toshack has not given up. Yesterday he rounded on some of his country's biggest football names for dishing out ultimatums to his inexperienced squad.
"I can understand people saying that the young lads need to deliver," he said. "But the ex-players who are saying this never delivered themselves. [Ian] Rush, [Kevin] Ratcliffe, [Neville] Southall – they didn't deliver a qualification either. They should be reminded that we are doing our best."
Qualification for Wales is only a mathematical possibility; the best they can hope for is third in Group Four. To achieve that they must beat a side chasing Germany for the automatic berth. Arsenal's Andrei Arshavin is expected to play up front with Tottenham's Roman Pavlyuchenko.
Toshack has also been hit by withdrawals. Jason Koumas announced his international retirement at the weekend, while Gareth Bale and Simon Davies are long-term injured. Jack Collison and Simon Church are also absent.
Providing it passes the referee's pre-match inspection, Joe Ledley will play alongside the teenager Aaron Ramsey in the midfield wearing a cast to protect a broken bone in his hand.
Wales (5-3-2, probable): Hennessey (Wolves); Ricketts (Bolton), Gabbidon (West Ham), Williams (Swansea), Collins (Aston Villa) Gunter (Nottm Forest); Edwards (Wolves), Ledley (Cardiff), Ramsey (Arsenal); Bellamy (Man City), Vokes (Wolves).
Russia (4-4-2, probable): Akinfeev; Aniukov, Ignashevich, Berezutsky, Zurianov; Semshov, Bystrov, Semak, Bilyaletdino; Arshavin, Pavlyuchenko.Reuse content