Wales will look ahead to tonight’s friendly clash with the Netherlands knowing that Robin van Persie and Memphis Depay won’t be troubling their defence- but the hosts will have to do it without both Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey. Even without their former captain van Persie and star Manchester United forward Depay in the squad, Holland won’t be without creativity at the Cardiff City Stadium, with Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben being handed the armband and the responsibility of leading a side still hurting from their failure to reach France for next Summer’s European Championship.
Robben this week spoke of how he and his fellow players have complete faith in manager Danny Blind, whose future has been in doubt since the end of their disastrous qualifying campaign. Robben was also part of the team that beat a resilient Wales side in a reverse fixture in June last year, before the Oranje embarked on a World Cup journey that saw them reach the semi-finals under Louis van Gaal. Now though, the tables have turned, with Wales’s place in their first major tournament since 1958 secured, while the Dutch face a tough rebuilding process.
Tough is certainly what this fixture will be. Wales will line up without Ramsey, Bale, who has now, thankfully, returned to full training with Real Madrid, and Burnley’s Sam Vokes, whilst David Cotterill also misses out. Coleman has thus turned to a pair of young forwards, Walsall’s Tom Bradshaw and Leicester City’s Tom Lawrence, for striking reinforcement.
Bradshaw will be looking to make his debut, having made the squad on previous occasions, only to not see game-time, whilst Lawrence has been in fine form on loan at Blackburn Rovers in the Championship. Fulham’s George Williams, who hasn’t featured since his brief, but impressive cameo against Cyprus last year, is also amongst a youthful contingent looking to make an impact. A victory for Wales would be the perfect end to a truly incredible turnaround from the last time these two sides met, but the Netherlands, creators of “Total Football”, should never be underestimated.
Wales’s squad to face the Netherlands:
Wayne Hennessey (Crystal Palace), Daniel Ward (Aberdeen, on loan from Liverpool), Owain Fon Williams (Inverness Caledonian Thistle).
Ashley Williams (Swansea City), James Chester (West Bromwich Albion), James Collins (West Ham United), Ben Davies (Tottenham Hotspur), Chris Gunter (Reading), Neil Taylor (Swansea City), Adam Henley (Blackburn Rovers), Paul Dummett (Newcastle United).
Joe Ledley (Crystal Palace), Joe Allen (Liverpool), David Vaughan (Nottingham Forest), Emyr Huws (Huddersfield Town, on loan from Wigan Athletic), Jonathan Williams (Nottingham Forest, on loan from Crystal Palace), Andy King (Leicester City), David Edwards (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Shaun MacDonald (AFC Bournemouth).
Tom Lawrence (Blackburn Rovers, on loan from Leicester City), Tom Bradshaw (Walsall), Simon Church (Milton Keynes Dons), George Williams (Fulham).