Wales midfielder Andy King believes victory in tomorrow night’s Carling Nations Cup opener against the Republic of Ireland would be the perfect boost ahead of next month’s EURO 2012 qualifier at home to England.
New manager Gary Speed will take charge of Wales for the first time at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday with Wales having suffered three defeats at the start of the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign that means their record of failing to reach a major finals since 1958 is likely to continue.
Their next qualifier is the Millennium Stadium meeting with Fabio Capello’s men on March 26, and Leicester playmaker King thinks a win over Ireland will tee Wales up nicely.
He said: “Confidence is a massive thing in football and if we can get a win it will be a huge boost for us.
“We are up against a strong Republic of Ireland side, they have Premier League players with lots of caps all the way through their squad and it would be a massive boost if we can win.
“This is a massively important competition and there is a trophy to be had. Every time you go out to play you want to do well and that’s why you have to work hard and everyone is going to be working hard to get the call up for England.
“I think some people see this as a warm up for the England game but it’s a different tournament and it’s important we get the three points and start the tournament well. The England game will be on people’s minds but we are 100 per cent focused on Tuesday night.”
But Speed’s preparations for his first game since succeeding John Toshack as full-time boss in December have been hit by a number of injury withdrawals.
Tottenham’s Gareth Bale and Cardiff striker Craig Bellamy were not named in the squad and last night the names of Aaron Ramsey, David Edwards and Ched Evans were added to an absentee list which also includes Boaz Myhill, Craig Morgan, Danny Gabbidon and Steve Morison.
Speed has also not been helped by the positioning of the fixture between two full league weekend programmes, with yesterday’s south Wales derby also depriving him of more time with his squad.
But King says that will be no excuse if Wales fail to perform.
“We do have a short preparation time and even more so for the people who played in the derby,” he said. “But at this time of the season it is hard and there are always a lot of games and it’s something Ireland will have to cope with as well.”