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EURO 2012: new Wales era to start against England, says Joe Ledley

Will Bain is a trainee journalist at Cardiff Journalism School and is the editor of the This is Canton blog

Joe Ledley, EURO 2012, Wales, England, Cardiff, Millennium Stadium, Gary Speed, football

Joe Ledley will make his 36th appearance for Wales against England

By Will Bain

Wales star Joe Ledley believes the Gary Speed era will begin in earnest this week, and predicts a bright future under the former international midfielder.

Speed, who won 85 caps for his country, took over after John Toshack’s stuttering regime finally came to a close following a 1-0 defeat away to Montenegro in September.

Any Welsh fans hoping for an instant change in the national team’s fortunes though, were left disappointed as the former Leeds, Newcastle and Everton midfielder’s reign began with a 3-0 loss away to the Republic of Ireland, in the Carling Home Nations Cup.

But Ledley feels the fans will see the true impact of the new management team when Wales run out at the Millennium Stadium for Saturday’s EURO 2012 qualifier against England.

Ledley said: “I know we lost 3-0 in the first game to Republic of Ireland, but there wasn’t much time to get together before that one.

“Some of the boys had just played in the South Wales derby on the Sunday, and I came straight from the Old Firm game so I don’t think it was the best preparation for an international game.

“It takes a while to gel and get used to a new manager’s ideas, I think you’ve seen that with us at Celtic [Ledley’s current club after leaving Cardiff City this summer]. We have five clear days before the England game, which I think will help a lot.”

And Ledley is looking forward to working with Speed. He added: “I think we needed something fresh and Gary and the back room team he has brought in are ideal.

Looking ahead to the weekend’s mouth-watering match with England, Ledley is already relishing the opportunity to play in front of a full house in Cardiff.

He said: “I don’t think I’ve ever played in a full Millennium Stadium before so it will be amazing. The atmosphere will be jumping, it’s England so it will be like a derby game.

“England are in transition but they are still a world-class side, so it will be a difficult game. But if we go out there and play our own game and really compete with them, then hopefully we can get some points out of it.”

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