Tosh: Wales doing best to 'deliver'

John Toshack has called for understanding of the situation facing his Wales team as they set out on another international mission improbable.

Last Updated: 08/09/09 at 17:36

Toshack: Hit back at ex-players

Toshack: Hit back at ex-players

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Toshack sends out another side on Wednesday hit by injuries and withdrawals, against Euro 2008 runners-up Russia in the World Cup qualifier at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

He does so too against a backdrop of more criticism of his young squad's efforts from top Wales stars from the past.

Wales have been told it is "time to deliver" - against a side rated sixth in the world.

They will be without Jack Collison and Simon Church, who have been attending the funerals this week of their fathers. Also out are Jason Koumas, who retired from international football on Sunday, and long-term injured duo Gareth Bale and Simon Davies.

It leaves Wales, who seem destined to finish fourth in Group Four, with a mountain to climb against the Russians - who are battling with Germany for top spot and automatic qualification for next summer's finals.

Approaching his 50th full international in charge, an exasperated Toshack said: "We are doing out best.

"We are doing the best we can, right from grass roots up to the seniors. We are trying to do things the right way to create a situation where we eventually have a strong enough squad to get us a qualification.

"But it is difficult when you have the seedings we get with two very tough teams always in our group and only one place for automatic qualification.

"I can understand people saying we need to step up, that the young lads need to deliver.

"But the ex-players who are saying this never delivered themselves. (Ian) Rush, (Kevin) Ratcliffe, (Neville) Southall - they didn't deliver a qualification either.

"Look at the side they had - look at what they won at club level. But even with all that they never delivered.

"We hope somewhere down the line we will achieve what no other Wales side has done for a long time."

Toshack, 60, has helped to win 17 of those 50 matches but added: "It is not as straightforward as it seems. In our last two qualifying groups, we have copped the toughest of the lot both times.

"It was Germany and the Czech Republic in the last European qualifier, and now Russia and Germany in the World Cup.

"If you look at the groups those old-time players have had, I doubt they were more difficult that what this current squad have had to face.

"I feel we would have had a lot better chance of qualifying if we'd been in the sort of groups I see others having.

"I do not think there is too much pressure on these lads, regardless of the opposition. All I would have wanted is to see all my best players here, and that does not happen.

"The criticism does not really bother me - it is their [the ex-players'] jobs now. But they do need reminding - some of them - as well as they did at their clubs, it is 30 years since we won a group. We are doing our best."

Wales will have Craig Bellamy back up front as captain, probably partnering Wolves youngster Sam Vokes. A midfield trio of David Edwards, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Ledley - who will wear plastic protection over a broken bone in his hand - will face the Russians.

Toshack is expected to pair Danny Gabbidon and James Collins together in defence, along with Ashley Williams, while Chris Gunter has recovered from an ankle injury.

Koumas would have played had he been fit, but his retirement has robbed Wales of an experienced midfielder.

Toshack refused to criticise the Wigan man for his late decision to quit.

He said: "Losing Koumas is disappointing. He phoned to get things off his chest, and I know it took a lot of thought.

"Jason is a fine player. I have always been on his side when others have been against him. But I was not really surprised by his decision. I just hope he goes on to have a good season with his club.

"These things, though, are not new to us. We have lost players before, and some lads who have come in have taken their chance and done really well - notably in Azerbaijan, when we were missing nine players.

"But we have already lost five this time. We have pushed lads forward because of the retirements, and we have a decent all-round squad now."

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