Wales boss Chris Coleman salutes squad strength ahead of Austria friendly
Last Updated: February 5, 2013 9:28pm
Wales manager Chris Coleman has expressed his delight at the strength of his squad ahead of Wednesday's friendly with Austria.
It has been a rocky 12 months at the start of Coleman's reign with one victory in six games and his team's progress has been hampered with a number of withdrawals and injuries.
Wayne Hennessey and Neil Taylor are long-term absentees, while striker Steve Morison, plus centre-backs James Collins and Darcy Blake are among those missing for the clash at the Liberty Stadium.
But with Cardiff striker Craig Bellamy and Tottenham's Gareth Bale in sizzling form, Coleman said: "We are missing a few players but it is the best squad I have had, even if that brings more pressure on me I have to say that.
"We have to try and build some momentum (before next month's qualifiers against Scotland and Croatia).
"The turn-out has been good. The guys have all turned up for duty and they are looking good and ready for the game. We have got Craig Bellamy back, and we have not had him for some time, with a smile on his face and a spring in his step.
"When I named the squad I said it was a strong squad but would everyone be available? We had to get through the weekend of course, but I was delighted and the boys have been excellent over the last few days."
Bellamy's return has been a huge boost on the back of some reports the former Liverpool star would be hanging his boots up having missed the first four World Cup qualifiers through injury.
On having the Cardiff player back in the squad, Wales skipper Ashley Williams said: "I think we missed him in the games to be honest.
"I don't really think the lads spoke about him retiring at all, we never thought he was going to retire. We were just waiting for him to come back when the time was right for him and his situation.
"We are pleased that he is now and you can tell the squad has been lifted a bit. He seems in a relaxed mood, I think he is happy and he is a top quality player, so obviously you need all the top quality players you can get and with him and Gareth Bale it gives us something different."