DAY ON STANDBY FOR WALES SQUAD
Wales boss Mark Hughes has named a huge squad of 29 players, with another 10 on stand-by, for their first-ever match in the United States.
Wales travel to San Jose for a friendly international on May 26 but Hughes is expecting a number of withdrawals for the trip over the pond.
They will almost certainly include skipper Gary Speed, who is out for the season with a second hernia operation, and Celtic's John Hartson, who is expected play in the UEFA Cup final for Celtic the day after Wales travel, although he could fly out later.
Hughes also knows he will lose players who will be involved in the Nationwide play-offs which are being staged in Cardiff on the weekend of the USA match.
Two from Robert Page (Sheffield United), Nathan Blake (Wolves), Adrian Williams (Reading) and Darren Ward (Nottingham Forest) will be involved in the First Division final, while five Cardiff City players in Hughes' main and stand-by squads could also be playing in the Second Division showpiece.
The party of 29 will be reduced to 20 for the trip to the States a week before departure.
Hughes said: "It's important that all potential squad members are aware of the match and that's why I have picked such a large squad.
"There are question marks over certain players' fitness and that will also be monitored over the next week or two.
"There are still a lot of important matches to be played in the Premiership, Nationwide League and FA and UEFA Cup Finals, so it is difficult to know what the final make-up of the squad will be."
Hughes - whose team are now in the top 50 in FIFA's ranking for the first time in eight years - will use the match as his last run-out before the three Euro 2004 qualifiers in 21 days at the beginning of next season.
He added: "The match with the USA will be a good test for the players and it is certainly not going to be easy. The days of the USA being a push-over in world football are long gone and we are all well aware of that."
Wales squad to play the United States, May 26, in San Jose:
P Jones (Southampton), Crossley (Middlesbrough), Ward (Nottingham Forest), Coyne (Grimsby), Melville (Fulham), Symons (Crystal Palace), Page (Sheffield United), Delaney (Aston Villa), Barnard (Grimsby), Williams (Reading), Gabbidon (Cardiff), Weston (Cardiff), Speed (Newcastle), Pembridge (Everton), Savage (Birmingham), Davies (Tottenham), M Jones (Leicester), Robinson (Portsmouth), Johnson (West Brom), Trollope (Northampton), Oster (Sunderland), Koumas (West Brom), Vaughan (Crewe), Giggs (Man Utd), Hartson (Celtic), Blake (Wolves), Bellamy (Newcastle), Taylor (Burnley), Earnshaw (Cardiff),
Stand-by: Jenkins (Cardiff), Haworth (Tranmere), G Roberts (Tranmere), N Roberts (Wigan), Day (Mansfield), Fowler (Cardiff), Pipe (Coventry), C Roberts (Bristol City), F Roberts (Wrexham), Tolley (Shrewsbury).
Old interview with Rhys Day from givemefootball.com (official PFA website)
It was a weekend to forget for Rhys Day. The Welshman represented his country in the Under 21 international against Azerbaijan on Friday night and got sent off midway through the first half. He then travelled through the night to get back to his club side Mansfield Town to play in an important bottom of the table clash with Peterborough on Saturday. Mansfield lost 5-1 and Rhys was stretchered off just before the end. Givemefootball's Lawrie Madden caught up with the defender after the game to see how his spirits were holding up.
Q: QUITE A WEEKEND TO SAY THE LEAST?
A: Just a little. I met up with the Under 21 Welsh squad and played on Friday night and then travelled back through the night to get back for the Peterborough game which was a massive game for us.
Q: YOU DIDN'T PLAY THE WHOLE GAME FOR WALES BUT WOULD YOU HAVE PLAYED TWO GAMES IN TWO DAYS IF YOU HAD TO?
A: Yes, that was the plan. If Wales had been winning easy then I would have come off but my club manager Keith Curle wanted me to play and I wanted to play, although I felt the game on Friday night catching up with me near the end of Saturday's game. I wanted us to get a win and be a hero. Even though we trailed 3-1 at half time we still felt we weren't out of it but we didn't start really.
Q: WHAT WENT WRONG?
A: We made a mistake for the first goal because we didn't pick up. We got a bit of luck to get back into he game with a penalty but made another mistake for the second, not picking up again and really we didn't get going. The only good thing is that results have gone our way with other teams at the bottom losing.
Q: IT IS QUITE A HEAVY DEFEAT COMING AT THIS STAGE OF THE SEASON. WHAT DO YOU DO NOW?
A: Basically, forget about this game, come in on Monday and start looking to the last six games. We believe that 50 points will be enough to stay in this division. I think we have a quality of player in this side that is better than those teams around us and if we work hard and stick together we will stay up.
Q: THERE AREA LOT OF CLUBS IN THE RELEGATION DOGFIGHT YET YOU SEEM CONFIDENT OF STAYING UP DESPITE THIS RESULT?
A: I think there are definitely goals in this side. We have proved it. Since Keith Curle has come we have stopped conceding goals, until Saturday at least. We can get goals from our wide men and from our strikers and, obviously, if you score goals you have a chance. We have to work hard, be aggressive, stick together and our quality will come through.
Q: WE HAVE A QUESTION FROM ONE OF OUR READERS WHO WANTS TO KNOW 'HAVE YOU FOUND IT EASY TO SETTLE INTO THE CLUB SINCE YOUR MOVE FROM MANCHESTER CITY?
A: It has been brilliant. The manager and the coaches have been good and so have the fans which has made it easy for me to settle in. At Manchester City I was playing in the reserves and then sometimes only getting a run out for 15 minutes. Now I am playing first team football and you can't beat it. It's a great feeling.
Q: HAS IT BEEN A BIG CHANGE FROM CITY?
A: I didn't know where I stood at Manchester City. I look back and wherever I have got on with the manager I have progressed. I am progressing here and I get on well with Jimmy Shoulder who runs the Welsh under 21's and I feel I have developed as a player because of it. It is nice to play first team football and feel part of the team.
Q: WELSH FOOTBALL IS UNDERGOING A BIT OF RESURGENCE. WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR YOU INTERNATIONALLY?
A: I am playing regularly in the first team. If I can remain injury free and keep playing well for club and country I can try and get into the first team internationally. If I keep progressing the way I am then I won't be far away and the chance of going to Portugal would be brilliant.
Latest | May 2003