Wales v Belgium preview
Wales take in their first competitive fixture since the passing of Gary Speed looking to see off Belgium and take a positive step towards Brazil 2014.
Last Updated: 07/09/12 11:52am
Wales take in their first competitive fixture since the tragic passing of Gary Speed looking to see off Belgium and take a positive step towards Brazil 2014.
Chris Coleman is the man charged with the task of maintaining the momentum established by Speed towards the end of Euro 2012 qualification.
It was always going to be difficult for him to generate results and performances straight away, with players, coaches and supporters still coming to terms with the loss of their popular former boss.
Wales are yet to win or score under their new coach, but there is a determination within the ranks to put things right in games that really matter.
A home date with Belgium on Friday falls into that category, as Coleman and his troops look to reach the World Cup finals for the first time since 1958.
The visitors to Cardiff will be no pushovers, though, as they boast a squad brimming with Premier League pedigree.
This is considered to be something of a golden generation for Belgium and they will be looking to turn potential into something more tangible.
Key men missing
Unfortunately for Coleman, as Wales attempt to make a flying start to their qualifying campaign, he has several key players unavailable.
Skipper and talisman Craig Bellamy has a calf injury and is also out of Tuesday's visit to Serbia, with his Cardiff team-mate Robert Earnshaw having been called up as cover.
Celtic midfielder Joe Ledley is out for at least another two weeks with a groin problem, while Brighton's Andrew Crofts (ankle) also misses out.
Midfield duo Jack Collison (knee), David Vaughan (ankle) and Swansea full-back Neil Taylor are other notable absentees along with goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey (knee).
U21 starlets Jazz Richards and Ben Davies have been drafted into the squad, with Davies looking to make his senior bow.
Strength in depth
Belgium manager Marc Wilmots has a strong squad available for the clash at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Arsenal's Thomas Vermaelen is expected to shift into the left-back position with Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen and Manchester City's Vincent Kompany operating at the heart of the back four.
Dries Mertens and Mousa Dembele are the two in contention to support a lone frontman alongside Chelsea's Eden Hazard.
Marouane Fellaini, Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku are other familiar faces that could figure at some stage.