Belfast Telegraph

Wales victory would be icing on the cake for Coleman

By Phil Blanche

Chris Coleman celebrated his 46th birthday yesterday with a cake - but the real present the Wales manager wants is a winning start at Euro 2016.

Wales end their 58-year wait to play at a major tournament tonight when they meet Slovakia in Bordeaux.

But the Wales squad got the formalities out of the way first as they celebrated their manager's birthday before leaving their Brittany base in Dinard for the south-west of France.

"I had a lovely cake, but I've left it in Dinard - I'll eat it after the weekend," said Coleman.

"Yes, it's my birthday. But when you're involved in football you don't think about that.

"It's all about the game and getting that win we need.

"It's the first game, we want to win, Slovakia want to win, and we've both got two other bites of the cherry, but the two teams will see this as an opportunity of getting that first win."

Wales have had injury concerns in the build-up to their Euro 2016 opener with Joe Allen, Joe Ledley and Hal Robson-Kanu not returning to training until this week.

Allen should start after shaking off a knee problem, but Ledley and Robson-Kanu are in danger of missing out.

David Edwards and Andy King are on standby to replace Ledley, who has made a remarkable recovery from a fractured leg suffered on May 7, and Sam Vokes could join forces with Gareth Bale in attack.

Asked about Slovakia's focus being on Bale, Coleman said: "We've grown used to that, it's normal for the opposition to pay him a lot of attention.

"Once you become the most expensive player in the world, you're playing for Real Madrid, and you've won two Champions Leagues in three years, you become used to it.

"Gareth's used to the spotlight and having the eyes of the world on him. I expect Slovakia to pay him attention."



Euro 2016 Group B

Bordeauk, Today, 5.00 pm

Belfast Telegraph