Wales manager Ryan Giggs has backed his players to make light of the absences of star players Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey by beating Ireland on Tuesday and taking control of their Nations League group.
Real Madrid forward Bale will be absent in Dublin due to muscle fatigue, while Arsenal midfielder Ramsey has remained at home in London after his wife, Colleen, gave birth to twins over the weekend.
“The good news is that he’s had two additions to the family over the weekend. Huge congratulations to Rambo,” Giggs said. “He’s stayed in London with his family and we’d planned for that.”
Bale was pictured in training with Real Madrid on the club’s Twitter account on Monday night, although he is believed to have followed an individual programme.
It will be the first competitive game that Wales have started without both Bale and Ramsey since the latter made his international debut against Denmark in 2008.
Wales have won only three of the qualifying matches that Bale has missed since making his debut in 2006 and without Ramsey they have won only two.
“It’s happened in the past and it’s going to happen in the future, when we have to cope without our better players,” Giggs said.
“It’s up to [the players who come in] to stop that record: prove people wrong, if that’s the case, and make that record a little bit better.”
Giggs will also be without Chelsea teenager Ethan Ampadu and Brentford centre-back Chris Mepham at the Aviva Stadium. He has drafted in the uncapped trio of Swansea winger Daniel James, Ipswich wide man Gwion Edwards and Sheffield United defender Kieron Freeman.
Giggs criticised his players for not doing the basics in last Thursday’s 4-1 friendly loss to Spain. He emphasised the need for his players to “win their battles” and “earn the right to play” against Martin O’Neill’s rugged Ireland team.
Wales have conceded six goals in their last two games and defender Ben Davies called for a return to the defensive solidity that provided a platform for their run to the semi-finals at Euro 2016.
“Throughout the qualification [for Euro 2016] we only gave away two goals and I think we need to get back to that,” said the Tottenham left-back.
Such is the situation in Nations League B Group 4 that whereas a Wales win will send them two points clear of Denmark at the group summit and leave Ireland on the brink of relegation, should Ireland prevail, they will move level with current leaders Denmark and leave Wales bottom.
Ireland were soundly beaten 4-1 in September’s reverse fixture in Cardiff, shipping three goals in the first 37 minutes.
They showed greater resolve in Saturday’s 0-0 draw at home to Denmark, but O’Neill has urged his players to be more proactive with the ball.
“We’re playing at home, so we’ll try to play on the front foot as quickly as possible. We’ll try to dictate the game,” said the Ireland manager.
Bristol City midfielder Callum O’Dowda has been ruled out after suffering dizzy spells during the stalemate with Denmark. Portsmouth striker Ronan Curtis has been drafted into the squad.
O’Neill said Southampton striker Shane Long would be assessed after sustaining a few “knocks and bruises” against Denmark.
O’Neill also responded to a comment from Denmark midfielder Thomas Delaney that Ireland’s football was “primitive”.
“They can dish it out themselves when it’s necessary and they’re as physical as any side playing in European football,” he said. “So I wouldn’t concern myself too much about their remarks.”
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