Monday 16 July 2018

Ledley tells team-mates to be clever

Wales footballer Joe Ledley. Photo: PA
Wales footballer Joe Ledley. Photo: PA

Phil Blanche

Joe Ledley has called for clear heads as Wales seek to secure a 2018 World Cup play-off spot amid the emotion of a derby game against the Republic of Ireland.

Tom Lawrence's superb second-half strike gave Wales a 1-0 win in Georgia on Friday night - their third successive victory in World Cup qualifying. Wales would still win Group D - and automatic qualification to next summer's finals in Russia - if they overcome Martin O'Neill's men tomorrow and leaders Serbia fail to beat Georgia at home on the same evening.

But it is more likely that Wales and Ireland will be contesting second place in the group and the right to feature in next month's play-offs. With so much on the line, emotions will be running high in Cardiff, especially as memories remain fresh of their Dublin clash in March.

That game was shrouded in controversy when Ireland captain Seamus Coleman suffered a broken leg in a challenge with Neil Taylor, who was sent off in the goalless draw.

"Obviously we know it is a derby, but we must not get involved in anything," Ledley said. "We need to be clever and we have a lot of experience, so it is down for us. Monday will be a battle and they will fight hard, it is always the same in these games. But it will be a great occasion, and hopefully we can do it with one last push."

Wales head into the final qualifier seeking a fourth consecutive victory for the first time in 36 years. They hold a one-point advantage over Ireland and a draw should be enough to claim a play-off place. "Three wins and three clean sheets is very positive," Ledley added. "All that is all out of the window on Monday, but I do feel this is the strongest squad we have had. "

Captain Ashley Williams also promised Wales will take a positive approach as they attempt to close in on a first World Cup finals appearance since 1958. "We will try to create and take the game to them, but we will also try to shut Ireland out," Williams said.

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