Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Coleman ready to throw Ramsey into heat of battle

By Phil Blanche

Published 12/11/2016

Welsh wizard: Aaron Ramsey at Wales training yesterday
Welsh wizard: Aaron Ramsey at Wales training yesterday

Wales manager Chris Coleman has declared Aaron Ramsey ready for World Cup action after confirming the Arsenal midfielder will start tonight's crunch qualifier against Serbia.

Ramsey has only just returned from a hamstring injury suffered on the opening day of the season and has not completed 90 minutes since the Euro 2016 last-16 victory over Northern Ireland.

The 25-year-old has had only 113 minutes of first-team action for Arsenal since returning from an 11-week lay-off.

But Coleman has stressed Ramsey's importance as Wales attempt to overtake Group D leaders Serbia, saying: "He's ready and he looks great.

"He's not played too much football for Arsenal but, of course, he's going to start the game.

"However long he'll last, physically, we don't know. But we do know he's generally probably one of the fittest players playing football."

Ramsey was probably the stand-out player as Wales reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016 and was named in the official team of the tournament.

He was suspended for the semi-final defeat to Portugal and Coleman admits Wales have missed him during their opening three World Cup qualifiers.

Wales beat Moldova in their opening game before October draws against Austria and Georgia left them two points adrift of Serbia.

"Being without him for the first three games was a blow for us," Coleman said.

"It's my opinion there's not a team on the planet he couldn't play for when he's at his best.

"That's not a biased opinion because I'm a Welshman and we all love Rambo.

"I'm looking at it clinically, because playing in the tournament against the top teams, he was head and shoulders above."

Coleman believes Wales have shaken off the complacency he felt crept in last month against Austria and Georgia.

And he accepts it is a pivotal game as Serbia - who beat Wales 6-1 and 3-0 in 2014 World Cup qualifying -have recovered from a disastrous Euro 2016 to take seven points from the first nine in this campaign.

"We know how big it is. We've got seven games now and you can't miss an opportunity to take a step forward," Coleman said.

"We need to make a statement, because we don't play again until after Christmas so it's a long time.

"They are the last team to beat us at home in a campaign game. But we are a different team and so are they.

"That's a scar, we can't take it away. But I won't be saying to the players we've got to make up for it; it's gone. We've more than made up for that since."

Belfast Telegraph

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph