Toshack set to decide on Welsh old guard

Wales manager John Toshack will spend the summer deciding whether he needs to build bridges with the senior players who were absent from the World Cup victory in Azerbaijan.

The Azeris are no world power, but victory by a virtual Wales Under-21 side in Baku was one of the most satisfying moments in Toshack's five years in charge. It was noted by many that the atmosphere, attitude and spirit around the youthful camp was a notable improvement on some of the tension-filled squads Toshack has overseen.

And one of the key decisions Toshack will make is how to reintegrate Craig Bellamy – by far Wales' most high-profile and talented player – back into the squad. Perfectionist Bellamy is demanding of himself and those around him, and that has not always had the desired effect on young players. A source close to the FA of Wales commented: "Craig is a big personality, he pushes himself hard but he sometimes intimidates the younger players."

There was a much more relaxed atmosphere around the camp for the nine days that incorporated the 1-0 home friendly international victory over Estonia and the Group Four win over Azerbaijan, the first time for three years that Wales have won such a double-header.

And they did it without Bellamy, James Collins, Simon Davies, Jason Koumas, Carl Fletcher, Danny Gabbidon, Gareth Bale, Jack Collison, David Cotterill and Ched Evans.

But Toshack's remarks in the build up to the game that Wales did not have "senior players with the right leadership qualities" is something that will need addressing. It is understood former captain Davies is disappointed and surprised to be labelled in such a way. Bellamy, Koumas and Davies have all had – or are about to have – operations to solve long-term injury problems, and Davies in particular feels he has been unfairly treated.

Toshack has discovered an outstanding axis of former and current Cardiff youngsters who have grown up through schools football in the city and the Championship club's academy. It is clear now that he will build his side around new captain Joe Ledley, Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey and Spurs defender Chris Gunter, long-term friends who have made a major impact.

Ledley's emergence as a leader of a young side will tempt Toshack to leave the captaincy with the Cardiff captain, a move which would need delicate discussions with the current squad captain Bellamy.

Toshack will be happy to have Fletcher and Davies back in the squad for the reason that there are not many senior men he can call on, and injuries always seem to destroy his plans.

Koumas, who had a long discussion with Toshack in the wake of the damaging defeat to Finland in March, may have to wait a little longer for a recall.

Bellamy's talents cannot be discarded. He is the only genuine match-winner of very top quality that Wales have, but he may be asked now to accept a lesser role in the squad especially as he has figured in only five of Wales' last 17 matches.

Wales' next match is a friendly in Montenegro on 12 August ahead of the World Cup home game against Russia in Cardiff on 9 September.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn