No doubt for Speed over GB duo
Wales manager Gary Speed insists he never had any doubt that Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey would deliver against Norway, despite the ongoing furore over their availability for next year's Olympic Games.
The build-up to Saturday's 4-1 win had been dominated by Tottenham winger Bale and Arsenal midfielder Ramsey appearing in promotional images for a Team GB supporters' shirt. The Football Association of Wales are opposed to them featuring as they fear the involvement of players in the national squad will have a negative impact on their individual standing within FIFA.
Speed was always sure that Bale, who lashed home the opener, and captain Ramsey would be able to put the Team GB issue to the back of their minds and he said: "I am impressed with them."
He added: "But it hasn't affected us, we haven't spoken about it apart from one chat we had as a squad, so it did not affect out preparations or what we do. It's still a long way off.
"I never had any doubt they would perform. If you start using these things as excuses then you won't get very far so it was never going to affect us."
Saturday's win was a fourth in five games and marked the first time Wales have recorded three consecutive victories since early 2008, and Speed revealed the turning point that sparked the current upturn in form, which has heralded a climb from 117th to 45th in the FIFA World Rankings, came with the 2-1 friendly defeat to Australia in August.
Defeat to the Socceroos made it four losses in Speed's first five games in charge, and he cut a downbeat figure following that reverse, but the former captain believes the result marked an epochal moment in his side's development.
He said: "It was the best thing that has happened to us, as after that game we really spelled out to the players what we wanted from them and the win against Montenegro in the next game was a result of that.
"It hasn't happened overnight, on the surface it may look like it but the work we put in from February to August has now shown its' rewards. We knew it would be a slow process but we know we need to keep it going.
"I am surprised how quickly we have progressed but that's down to the application of the players. They have taken everything on board and are reaping the rewards, but there is still a bit to go."
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