Cole­man rel­ish­ing tough­est of tasks

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - SOCCER WORLD CUP 2018 QUALIFYING -

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

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