Coleman relishing toughest of tasks
Group D Wales v Austria Cardiff City Stadium, 7.45
Chris Coleman remains undaunted by the size of Wales’ World Cup task and admits he would not be bothered if they had to beat “Brazil, Spain and Germany” to reach next summer’s finals in Russia.
Wales are playing catch-up in Group D with four points to make up on the top two of Serbia and the Republic of Ireland.
Coleman’s side have four games left to claw back that deficit – Austria and Ireland at home and Moldova and Georgia away.
But the Wales manager is supremely confident that can be done, although maximum points might be needed to finish top or even claim a playoff spot.
“We can do it [win the last four games] and that’s no disrespect to Austria, Moldova, Georgia and the Republic of Ireland,” Coleman said ahead of Austria’s visit to Cardiff today.
“I know this is a statement, but I’ll say it – it could be Brazil, Spain and Germany.
“I have that much confidence in our players and in our team, especially here in this [Cardiff City] stadium when it’s full.
“If we get it right then there’s nobody we need to fear. That’s a definite.”
The two sides drew 2-2 in Vienna last October when West Ham’s Marko Arnautovic twice cancelled out a Wales lead.
But there is a real knife-edge feel about this game as Austria are in the same position as Wales.
Wales expect Aaron Ramsey to play after the midfielder suffered a kick to the calf in Arsenal’s 4-0 Premier League defeat at Liverpool on Sunday.
Ramsey has not trained every day this week, but he did train yesterday and his presence is a boost for Wales with fitness concerns over Joe Ledley and Joe Allen suspended.
Ledley has been without a club since leaving Crystal Palace this summer and has not played since Wales drew 1-1 away to Serbia in June.
Coleman confirmed Ledley is not fit enough to play 90 minutes, but he has no concerns over Jonathan Williams after the Crystal Palace forward left the Wales camp on Thursday to make the long journey to Sunderland and complete a loan move.
Aaron Ramsey: expected to play for Wales despite a calf injury