Toshack sings praises of Welsh fab four

John Toshack sought closure to a Savage saga yesterday, refusing to discuss Robbie, the retired Wales midfielder, and instead looking forward to a new era in his own management career and the fortunes of his country's international side.

When Savage was told he had been dropped from the Wales squad to face Austria in the World Cup qualifying double-header that kicks off tomorrow in Cardiff, he said Toshack would take Wales "back to the dark ages". Toshack signalled yesterday that no further dissent will be tolerated.

"I would think everybody here is now on board," he said, looking forward to his first competitive match as Wales coach. "I would hope so for their sakes. And for all our sakes."

Wales have gathered only two points from their opening four games to fall seven points behind second-placed Poland. "We could win all of our matches and still not qualify," Toshack said. "But we have a responsibility to win the football match. We have been very encouraged by what we have seen this week. When someone new comes in, they have different ideas. It always happens, certainly at club level.

"Some of the training this week has shown a few have had difficulty adapting but their concentration, enthusiasm and effort has made me very optimistic."

Ryan Giggs, who will captain the side as he earns his 50th cap, will be a key figure in a revamped midfield. Toshack is likely to start with a 4-2-3-1 formation, and he was full of praise for the four "top-drawer" players who will comprise his attacking thrust. Craig Bellamy, Simon Davies and Giggs will provide the cutting edge behind John Hartson.

"During my first spell in charge of Real Madrid, we had a similar foursome - Hugo Sanchez, Emilio Butragueño, Michel and Martin Vasquez," Toshack said. "We won the league with a record number of points and a record number of goals. At Deportivo La Coruña, I had another four in Rivaldo, Bebeto and Mauro Silva, plus Fran.

"Then, during my second spell at Real Madrid, I had Raul, Morientes, Clarence Seedorf and Nicolas Anelka. Whichever way you look at it, none of those are a bad little quartet, are they?

"But I have to say, I look at the likes of Giggs, Bellamy, Hartson and Davies and I see footballers right out of the top drawer. They bear comparison with any of the quartets I have previously mentioned."