Chris Coleman believes defender Chris Gunter can go on to become the first Wales centurion as he prepares to reach 50 caps

Gunter will become the youngest player to reach the half-century mark for Wales at just 24-years-old when he runs out against Belgium tonight

Andrew Gwiliym
Tuesday 15 October 2013 11:46
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Reading and Wales defender Chris Gunter will make his 50th appearance for his country against Belgium tonight
Reading and Wales defender Chris Gunter will make his 50th appearance for his country against Belgium tonight

Chris Coleman hopes Chris Gunter can go on to be the first man to win 100 caps for Wales as the defender prepares to become the youngest player to reach a half-century of appearances for the Dragons.

The Reading full-back, likely to feature at centre-half alongside James Collins against Belgium, is aged just 24 but is already more than halfway towards Neville Southall's record tally of 92.

Coleman, who could take charge of his country for the final time in Brussels on Tuesday with his future shrouded in uncertainty, has often bemoaned the fact that so few Welsh players have reached a figure of 70 caps or more, but believes Gunter can go all the way to three figures.

He said: "Players like Neville and Gary Speed (who holds Wales' outfield record of 85 appearances), they didn't have that many caps at his age.

"It would be nice to see some of our players getting up there towards 100 and for him to have 50 caps at 24 is an amazing achievement and a huge positive for us as well as him.

"He never misses a camp, even when he has not been starting games, and he is a really good pro.

"He does his work, the best is still to come for him at just 24.

"That's the type of mentality we are looking for from everyone, whether things are good or bad, he is always here."

Injury-hit Wales face a daunting task as they round off their Group A campaign against winners Belgium, with the Red Devils preparing to celebrate their qualification for Brazil in front of a sell-out crowd at King Baudouin Stadium.

But Coleman has vowed his side will do their utmost to spoil the party.

"You look at Belgium's squad and it is the most expensive squad in Europe," he said.

"Look at what players they have got, they can leave two or three out and the players they replace them with are very strong, experienced and talented.

"They have won the group at a canter and they have not done it for nothing.

"They are a top team, it doesn't matter what team they put out, it is one heck of a test, it is good for us. We are looking forward to it and relishing it. It's a good test."

Coleman is expected to stick with the majority of the side that beat Macedonia on Friday, although striker Sam Vokes will be fit enough to take a place on the bench.

PA

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