Wales manager Chris Coleman hits back at Manchester City defender Aleksandar Kolarov

 

Chris Coleman has warned Serbia full-back Aleksandar Kolarov he should be more focused on the challenge of facing Gareth Bale than passing comment on Wales' style of play.

Speaking in the wake of Serbia's 0-0 draw with Scotland on Saturday, Manchester City defender Kolarov took a pop at British football, accusing the home nations of favouring a long-ball approach.

The comment has raised Coleman's ire ahead of tonight's World Cup qualifier at the Karadjordje Stadium, in which Wales will be looking to bounce back from their 2-0 defeat to Belgium in their Group A opener.

And the former Fulham boss has made it clear he expects Kolarov to have more to worry about than Wales' tactical approach when he comes up against Tottenham winger Bale, who was the stand-out performer in the defeat to Belgium.

Coleman said: "If that's his opinion, that's up to him. How much has he seen of us? Has he watched all our games? Has he been scouting us?

"It will be up to us that we keep Mr Kolarov busy. If Gareth plays on his side he'll have to concentrate hard on his own style of play rather than worrying about us or Scotland or Ireland."

Bale is again likely to be Wales' most potent attacking weapon as they search a first goal in five games, and Coleman expects the Serbs to try every trick in the book to nullify the 23-year-old, but has backed his star man to deal with whatever is thrown at him.

"Baley is a one off. He could probably get into any other national team," said Coleman, ahead of the game, which will be the first time Serbia have played in Novi Sad since 1989.

"They will double-up on him, use different tactics than they normally would to stop him.

"Belgium tried it - it's clever play when foreign defenders pretend to pull out of challenges but they're still stopping you.

"They've been doing it for years, it's clever and it'll happen here. Gareth knows that, we know that. It's nothing new for him and he's probably used to it.

"I don't think he'll worry about it and I don't because I know if I was playing against him I'd look at him and see if there's a way to calm him down. I can't see Serbia being different."

Wales are without the likes of Craig Bellamy, Wayne Hennessey and Neil Taylor in Novi Sad, while James Collins is suspended following his red card against the Belgians.

But Wales are hopeful Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen will be fit after missing Friday's game through a combination of illness and a calf problem.

While the visitors are desperate to deliver a result, there is also plenty of pressure on Serbia coach Sinisa Mihajlovic.

The former Lazio defender has not secured a win from his five games in charge and his authoritarian approach to management has caused unrest among the squad; in May he jettisoned the Fiorentina midfielder Adem Ljajic for not singing the national anthem before a friendly against Spain.

PA

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