Toshack challenges Wales regulars
Wales boss John Toshack has challenged his squad to stand up and be counted starting against Scotland.
Last Updated: 13/11/09 5:33pm
Wales boss John Toshack has challenged his squad to stand up and be counted starting against Scotland on Saturday.
After another failed qualifying campaign, Toshack is preparing for a friendly Battle of Britain with George Burley's men, who also failed to qualify for a major tournament once again.
The former Real Madrid boss has vowed to honour the last two years of his contract with the Welsh side, with qualification for Euro 2012 his final objective.
After five years at the helm, Toshack has seen many players come and go from the international set-up, but he feels the current crop have enough experience finally to start delivering.
He said: "We seem to be having 'new starts' all the time. There has been so many changes, injuries and retirements, and it has meant there can be no continuity.
"But the average age of the side will be 22 this time, and I have told the lads that they have had two or three years together now to come to terms with international football.
"Most of them have got 15 to 20 caps. Now is the time for these lads to realise that they have to stand up and start producing.
"We have a year to prepare for the next tournament, and these lads have learned from some tough campaigns already against Germany and Russia.
"We need a little more good fortune now and a squad to be consistent and stay together."
Much of Wales' hopes for the future could lie on 18-year-old Arsenal starlet Aaron Ramsey, who has already established himself as a regular for his nation.
The youngster is also on the fringes of Arsene Wenger's in-form team after playing the entire game in Arsenal's 4-1 over Wolves last week, and Toshack expects to build the team around the talented playmaker.
"Aaron has come on very well, we have seen a big difference," he said. "You can see that in particular when he drops back to the under-21s, the change is obvious.
"Now he has had his first 90 minutes in the Premier League and he played very well at Wolves in that match.
"There is no question, he has grown in confidence and the more starts he gets for Arsenal now, the better it will be for us.
"He is in the mix now at Arsenal, and getting his chance. Interestingly, he and Gareth Bale - the two young players people talk most about in our squad - are the only two not playing regularly for their clubs.
"The lesson there is that it is one thing to hit the headlines, but another is to maintain it."
Toshack accepts that he must deal with regular early retirements and injuries as a national team boss, but he is optimistic of Wales' prospects for the next campaign.
"We have lost a lot of midfield players, who have retired, and there are several injured too," added Toshack.
"So what we are looking for is continuity in the group. We have decent enough goalkeepers at Premier League clubs, plenty of defenders of a good quality and good, young midfielders too.
"And there are three young strikers, Simon Church, Ched Evans and Sam Vokes, who are all getting regular matches. The ingredients are all there, the future looks good and I hope people say there is a good squad for years and years to come."
On Wales' first international at Cardiff City's new home, Toshack added: "I just hope that we do make it our home, maybe we will feel at home there as we did at Ninian Park a few years back.
"The Millennium stadium is a great place, I don't want to be critical because it sounds like we are making excuses for losing matches. But the pitch at Cardiff City's new ground is a football pitch, not a rugby one."