Test of mettle awaiting Wales

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The Independent Online
Gary Speed believes Wales can avoid a repeat of last month's beating in the Netherlands when they tackle Turkey in Cardiff today.

Wales suffered a humiliating 7-1 defeat against the Dutch in Eindhoven but Speed is confident they can re-start their World Cup challenge with victory against the Turks.

"In the last campaign we lost 5-1 in Romania but we put it behind us and so nearly made it to the finals in the last game," the Everton midfielder said.

Wales, who have six points out of 12 at the half-way stage, will top Group Seven if they beat the Turks and the Dutch draw in Belgium tonight, but they have played more games than their rivals and must win their last four matches to reach the target Gould set before the opening game against San Marino in June.

Bobby Gould, the Wales manager, will not make his team public until an hour before kick-off, and he was also reluctant to reveal which of his players is having a fitness test this morning but Mark Hughes says he is ready to face the Turks with his shin wound protected by padding.

Gould is committed to making changes at the back from the Eindhoven game with Mark Bowen dropped and Alan Neilson injured. Ryan Giggs' return, along with that of Hughes and skipper Barry Horne, will give Wales a much stronger look than they had in the Netherlands.

Iain Dowie aims to take his Premiership frustration out on Albania when he leads Northern Ireland in their World Cup Group Nine qualifier against Albania in Belfast. The West Ham striker will be hoping to bring an end to the longest goal drought of his career.

He has only two Coca-Cola Cup goals to his name this season, and has not scored in the Premiership since netting twice in the Hammers' 4-2 victory over Manchester City on 23 March.

The striker Phil Gray, who is hoping for a recall alongside Dowie, left the French club Nancy yesterday and joined Fortuna Sittard. The Dutch club bought out the remaining two years of his Nancy contract for pounds 400,000.

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