Wales warm-up match is a bit of a gamble, agrees Coleman
Side could be undone by hostile mood in Ukraine Ramsey and Bale will be on the sidelines again
Chris Coleman accepts he has taken a risk by choosing Ukraine as penultimate Euro 2016 warm-up opponents for his Wales side.
The manager agreed to the Kiev fixture because Ukraine’s neighbours, Russia, are among their Group B rivals in France this summer. But Wales are once more without star pair Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey and could come unstuck in what is certain to be a hostile environment at Kiev’s 70,000-capacity Olympic Stadium tonight.
“When you go to places like this, you find out a lot about players,” said Coleman (right). “But we want it to be risky and we want it to be edgy. You learn nothing if you go into a game knowing that if you are at 80 per cent you will win 4-0.
“If you go into a hostile environment against a good team, you know you can end up with egg on your face if you do not turn up and perform. But I prefer it like this. We are in their back yard in a tough atmosphere, and we have to show we can cope.”
Wales dominated possession against Northern Ireland in Cardiff on Thursday, even if they owed their 1-1 draw to Simon Church’s last-minute penalty. But they might have to defend for long periods in Kiev against fellow Euro 2016 finalists.
Coleman, however, can at least call on his first-choice defence and is likely to return to five at the back. The fit-again Ben Davies is set to join captain Ashley Williams and James Chester in the centre of defence, with Chris Gunter and Neil Taylor deployed as wing-backs.
“The edge in the atmosphere is not for everyone,” said Coleman. “I have seen what it can do to some players. But guys like Ashley Williams are always the same in mentality, he always gives everything he has got.
“People say it is a tough place to go – cold, harsh and unfriendly. If it is, fine. Ukraine are talented and aggressive, but we have to look at ourselves and stand up to that.”
Coleman is also relieved that Chester is finally starting regularly for his club, West Bromwich Albion, after an £8 million summer switch from Hull. Chester was a linchpin of Wales’s defence in qualification but started one Premier League game before February.
Coleman said: “There was no worry about him being on the plane because it is obvious how good he has been for us, but starting in a tournament might have been different if he’d had no club football.”