The suspended duo of Joe Allen and Neil Taylor return to the Wales squad tonight for a surely must-win 2018 World Cup Qualifier game against group strugglers Moldova, who are yet to record a win in this qualifying campaign. The inclusion of Neil Taylor will be for the first time since the 0-0 bore draw against the Republic of Ireland, in March, when Taylor received a straight red, coupled with a two-game ban, for a horrifying tackle on Ireland’s Seamus Coleman in which the Irishman broke his leg in two places.
Given Chris Coleman’s preference of 5-3-2 formation with Neil Taylor on the left wing, it could be possible for the Aston Villa player to make a straight return to the side. The return of Joe Allen should be of a huge benefit to the Welsh midfield, who’s fantastic ability to dictate play was at times missed in the 1-0 victory over Austria on Saturday.
Missing out on a place in the squad, due to the return of Allen and Taylor, are James Collins and Jonny Williams. The removal of James Collins was questioned by some members of the media, partly in fact due to a lack of experience of the other, younger, centre-back options. Speaking to BBC Sport, former Welsh striker Iwan Roberts said of James Collins that he “has got loads of experience, and is still playing at the top level with West Ham, so I am surprised he has been left out”. He also went on to speak about the inexperience of uncapped Tom Lockyer and Ethan Ampadu, the latter of which has only played 14 games of senior football all of which at League Two level.
However, after the scintillating performance of Ben Woodburn on Saturday, the argument for inexperience definitely has some weight to it. In scoring a brilliant winning goal, Ben Woodburn has been involved in much of the pre-match talk, and it should be wondered whether he can have a larger involvement in the game. Potentially, even other young squad members like Ethan Ampadu. There will be competition for the second striker spot for the young Liverpool player, with Hal Robson-Kanu and Sam Vokes likely to be ahead of him in the running for the starting XI.
Moldova has had a poor campaign and is completely out of the running to qualify for the World Cup. Their campaign, in which they have shipped 18 goals in 7 games so far, started with a 4-0 loss to Wales at the Cardiff City Stadium, where Gareth Bale scored a brace in the second half. The high point of their campaign would most likely be their draw at home against Georgia, which ended at 2-2, a game played in front of only 4,800 people.
Wales will yet again have an impressive away following with another sell out away end, 1,200 tickets in all, travelling to the Zimbru Stadium in Moldova. If the Red Wall can generate anywhere near the atmosphere from Saturday evening, they can be sure to help power Wales to potentially their first away win of the campaign.
For those looking to watch or listen to the game from home, the game will be on Sky Sports Football and in Welsh on S4C. On the radio, there will be coverage live on BBC Radio Wales in English, and in Welsh on BBC Radio Cymru. Be sure to check on Twitter at @yddraighq for Y Ddraig’s additional coverage of the match.
Feature picture credit: gilabola.com