Ricketts out of Wales squad

Danny Gabbidon has been called into the Wales squad for next Tuesday's opening Euro 2016 qualifier against Andorra

Danny Gabbidon has been called into the Wales squad for next Tuesday's opening Euro 2016 qualifier against Andorra

First published in National News © by

Wolves defender Sam Ricketts has become the fourth player to withdraw from the Wales squad for next Tuesday's opening Euro 2016 qualifier against Andorra.

The Football Association of Wales announced on their official website that Ricketts picked up an injury in training on Tuesday.

He will be replaced by 35-year-old Danny Gabbidon, who rejoined Cardiff City earlier this week in a player-coach capacity.

Defenders Adam Matthews and James Collins had previously pulled out, together with Reading striker Hal Robson-Kanu. They were replaced by Declan John, Paul Dummett and Jake Taylor, respectively.

Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen, meanwhile, says Wales are confident they can "make big things happen" in their qualifying group.

Allen and company kick off the campaign away against the Group B minnows Andorra, with t he game taking place, as planned, on a new 3G artificial playing surface at Andorra's National Stadium after the pitch was finally given a green light following close inspection by UEFA officials.

And Allen knows the importance of making a strong start ahead of home games against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Cyprus next month.

"It sounds obvious to say it, but the start is vital. You want to get off the mark with a quick three points," Allen said.

"We've got the belief and confidence we can make a good start and make big things happen in this group. It is a long road, but every minute we are together counts towards that end goal.

"The change in the amount of teams that qualify has given us a boost. That, coupled with the players we've got, we are really confident we can hit the ground running.

"It is a group filled with tough teams, but we feel we can compete with them all."

Wales manager Chris Coleman will travel with a squad that contains star men Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, and their combined impact is not lost on Allen.

"We've got the likes of Gareth and Aaron, who have played consistently at the highest level for their clubs, and they are going to bring that to the table for us as well, which is fantastic," he added.

"We expect to perform, and we have the quality to win the game. It's as simple as that, really.

"There is strong competition for places, and that always breeds success.

"No-one can rest on their laurels. They know if they take their eye off the ball and don't perform to the level expected, then someone else is going to take their place.

"In training, you can see the standards have improved, and that can only hold us in good stead, really."

As for the pitch saga, Allen said: "It doesn't matter what pitch we play on, whatever surface, our focus on is how we play and perform.

"We would prefer to play on grass, that's what we do week in week out and it's an obvious preference.

"But we've all played on artificial surfaces enough times to know what to expect from it, and it's not a problem."

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