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Switzerland v Wales: Preview
Published : 12 Oct 2010 13:45:49
Wales caretaker manager Brian Flynn has deflected all personal attention
ahead of their crucial Euro 2012 qualifier in Switzerland.
Flynn is anxious to make an impression in the second and final match of his spell in temporary charge but he insists competition points are all that matter. Wales' hopes of progressing to the finals from Group G are already in tatters after defeat in Montenegro was followed by another loss in Flynn's first match against Bulgaria last Friday.
Yet Flynn remains optimistic as he prepares to face a Swiss side that have endured a similarly disappointing start to their campaign. The former Wrexham and Swansea boss, who could celebrate his 55th birthday in style with a win in Basle, said: "The team is the most important.
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"What happens next I have no idea, I haven't spoken to anyone. Switzerland in Basle is the key to this situation.
"Every international is a big game, it is football at the highest level. You can't go any higher than this.
"It is not about me, it is about Wales and this situation - that is the most important thing. But, yes, three points would be the perfect birthday present."
Flynn, having impressed in his role as under-21 boss, was asked to take over for the senior side's October double-header when John Toshack stepped aside last month. Having worked with many of the squad previously, Flynn sees enormous potential and believes it is only a matter of time before the likes of Gareth Bale - and the currently injured Craig Bellamy and Aaron Ramsey - lead them to a major tournament.
He even feels qualification this time is not completely out of the question.
"It is always a possibility," he said. "It is a huge task, a massive task, but I have huge belief in this bunch of players.
"I believe they will qualify for a major tournament. I don't know whether it will be this one but they will qualify, there is no doubt about that. The mood has been upbeat, they have been fairly positive.
"There was disappointment around the hotel on Saturday but the next one is the one that matters and here we are now.
"We are arriving here very similar to how the Bulgarians arrived in Cardiff after two defeats and we have belief we can win the game."
Switzerland are the only team below Wales in the group having lost their opening two games to England and Montenegro. Flynn expects Ottmar Hitzfeld's team to start strongly in a bid to get their campaign back on track.
He said: "I would expect Switzerland to come at us and try to make things happen in the first 20 minutes.
"That is where we have to be strong and make it difficult for them.
"The onus is on them to attack and we have planned for that. "We are going to have to absorb pressure for long periods in the game but we will get chances and we must convert them. We have got to be clinical.
"They are difficult to beat but we have got to make it hard for them, deny them space. "I would say they are favourites - they are at home, they have been to the World Cup - but I don't mind that."
Flynn's stand-in captain Ashley Williams appears to be winning his fitness fight to feature in the clash at St Jakob Park. The 26-year-old turned his ankle in latter stages of the Bulgaria defeat but was cleared to travel after an X-ray on Saturday. Since then the joint has responded well to treatment and he played a full part in training today. "His ankle has got better every day and I am very confident he will be able to start," said Flynn.
That news is a relief as Flynn must reorganise his back line due to suspensions to Chris Gunter and Sam Ricketts. Williams will revert to his natural centre-half position from midfield while Cardiff's Darcy Blake, 21, will make his international debut at right-back.
"Darcy will play at right-back," Flynn said. "I've seen a lot of him in that position and I like him there. He has made huge strides this season and has done really well at Cardiff. This can only help him with his club football."
Flynn has further defensive options having drafted in Rhoys Wiggins of Bournemouth and Preston's Craig Morgan at the weekend.