Toshack tells established names they must deliver

The Welsh public have remained distinctly unimpressed with the importance of today's World Cup qualifier against Finland, but fortunately for the trusty souls who will be at the Millennium Stadium, John Toshack has ensured that his players know exactly what rests on this Group Four encounter. Simon Davies and Jason Koumas, in particular, will hear their manager's "must-win" call reverberating around the near empty stands.

Toshack was not prepared to say he was disappointed with the pathetic pre-match tickets sales which have barely topped 15,000, but was ready to admit that he has told Davies and Koumas what is expected of them as Wales attempt to keep themselves in the race for second place with Germany visiting on Wednesday. Young midfielders are coming through and Toshack says he is certain that this talented generation will make it to the finals of a major competition for the first time since 1958. He is uncertain whether it will be this time around, but if it is not, then it is obvious Davies and Koumas may have missed out.

"They both know what my feelings are," said Toshack yesterday, at the Wales team hotel. "This is a game we definitely need to win. Any chances we have of qualification will evaporate if we don't. We need big performances from Jason and Simon. They are still important players for us, particularly in a game such as this when we are at home, it will be tight and we need someone to unlock the defence.

"Simon and Jason are the experienced ones now," he added. "If they look around there's no [Ryan] Giggs, no [John] Hartson, no [Robbie] Savage. I don't think it's too much to say to them 'hey come on, we want you to do something, we want you to be winners, on you go'."

How Koumas reacts will be intriguing to say the least. A frustrating player who has the ability to sparkle, but almost always only at his own behest, the Wigan player will be entrusted with the link role between the midfield and lone striker Craig Bellamy. Toshack will likely resist the temptation to start the Arsenal teenager Aaron Ramsey and instead rely on the more combative Carl Fletcher in the holding role. Meanwhile, the Spurs full-backs, Gareth Bale and Chris Gunter will be urged to thrust forward on the flanks and it is with this sort of spring-heeled exuberance where Bellamy believes his side will hold the edge.

With so many over-30s in their ranks the polite description of Finland would be "experienced". Bellamy was happy to use "ageing". "They do have an ageing squad," said the captain. "But what do have is a lot of legs. For the first time in a number of years we have a number of athletes who can cover the ground really well and hopefully that will be a big advantage for us."

Yet if Wales possess the energy then the Finns have most of the savvy. With Premier League names of the calibre of Jussi Jaaskelainen and Sami Hyypia at the back, and with Mikael Forssell up front, there is quality, albeit past its sell-by date, throughout the side of Stuart Baxter, the Brummie who arrived in his post via Sweden and Norway. It is doubtful that Finland's seasoned campaigners would have been intimidated whatever the atmosphere. But still, Bellamy reiterated his earlier concerns of the debilitating affect on Welsh morale.

There is, however, another reason why the Manchester City marksman hates running out into a empty shell. "It's not nice when my kids are watching and my bad language echoes all around the stadium," he said. "My wife is horrified when I get home."

Wales (probable, 4-4-1-1): Hennessey (Wolves); Gunter (Nottingham Forest), Collins (West Ham), Williams (Swansea), Bale (Tottenham); Davies (Fulham), Fletcher (Plymouth), Edwards (Wolves), Ledley (Cardiff); Koumas (Wigan); Bellamy (Manchester City).

Finland (probable, 4-4-2): Jaaskelainen (Bolton); Pasanen (Werder Bremen), Hyypia (Liverpool), Tinhenen (FC Zurich), Kallio (Fulham); Johansson (Hibernian), Vayrynen (Heerenveen), R Eremenko (Dynamo Kiev), Kolkaa (NAC Breda); A Eremenko (FC Saturn), Forssell (Hanover 96).

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
News
i100
Sport
footballSporting Lisbon take on Chelsea as Manchester City host Roma
News
people
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Arts and Entertainment
Mystery man: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in '‘Gone Girl'
films
News
businessForbes 400 list released
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
News
peopleSwimmer also charged with crossing double land lines and excessive speeding
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

Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy