Monday 19 February 2018

Ramsey would get in any team on the planet - Coleman

Wales v Serbia, Live, Sky Sports 1, 7.45

Aaron Ramsey (pictured) has assured Wales manager Chris Coleman that he is fit and ready to feature on the international stage. Photo: PA
Aaron Ramsey (pictured) has assured Wales manager Chris Coleman that he is fit and ready to feature on the international stage. Photo: PA

Jeremy Wilson

Wales have an authentic global superstar in Gareth Bale but their recent struggles have highlighted the importance of Aaron Ramsey.

Since his towering display in the dismantling of Belgium in the Euro 2016 quarter-final, Wales have won only once in four games without the injured Ramsey, against Portugal, Moldova, Austria and Georgia.

That run has left their World Cup qualification hopes in the balance and, ahead of Ramsey's return tonight for a pivotal match against Serbia, manager Chris Coleman has bracketed the Arsenal midfielder up with Bale among the world's elite.

Ramsey, said Coleman, fully merited the description "world class" and it would not have gone unnoticed inside the Wales camp that he was selected ahead of Bale in the Uefa team of Euro 2016.

"I've seen him up close in a tournament; I've seen the level he's at," Coleman said. "In my personal opinion there's not a team on the planet he couldn't play for when he's at his best. That's not a biased opinion because I'm a Welshman and we all love 'Rambo'. I'm looking at it clinically.

"Playing in a tournament, against the top teams, he was head and shoulders above."

Wales captain Ashley Williams, also acknowledged that the team had "missed" the Arsenal midfielder over recent months and this will be only a second start since injuring his hamstring on the opening day of the season against Liverpool.

Ramsey has reassured Coleman that he is "ready" and he will play in his preferred attacking central position alongside Bale but a decision will be taken about his fitness as the match unfolds.

"Of course he's going to start," said Coleman. "He looks great. However long he'll last, physically, we don't know, but we do know he's generally probably one of the fittest players."

Serbia are top of a congested Group D on seven points but Wales would go above them should they win tonight.

Coleman again stressed that Wales must move on from their history-making feats in France and, after feeling that they lacked what he called "an edge" in only drawing at home to Georgia last month, he is expecting a reaction tonight.

"I don't want to sound too critical of the guys as we're unbeaten so far but we want to keep pushing on," he said. "We talked about complacency and comfort zone; we don't want to go anywhere near that"

There were inevitable reminders yesterday about the previous fixture against Serbia back in September 2012. Wales were humiliated 6-1 - it was Coleman's fourth straight defeat as Wales manager.

The subsequent transformation has been vast but there are likely to be five players starting tonight - Ramsey, Williams, Bale, Chris Gunter and Joe Allen - who were also part of Wales' heaviest defeat for 20 years.

"We need to get the performance right and we need to make a statement," said Coleman. "We are a different team and so are they but that's a scar. We can't take it away. I won't be saying to the players we've got to make up for it; it's gone."

In Branislav Ivanovic, Nemanja Matic, Dusan Tadic and Aleksandar Mitrovic, Serbia have considerable experience of playing in Britain. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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