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Wednesday, 21 August, 2002, 21:11 GMT 22:11 UK
Hughes optimistic after friendly
A mistake from Wales goalkeeper Paul Jones led to Croatia's equaliser
Hughes does not blame Paul Jones for Croatia's goal
Wales manager Mark Hughes refused to be downhearted after watching his side throw away a golden opportunity to beat Croatia.

A poor clearance by goalkeeper Paul Jones gifted Croatia a late equaliser.


Simon Davies has very quickly become a senior player with us
Wales boss Mark Hughes
But Hughes, who was denied the services of several key players for the away fixture, had no complaints.

"I was very pleased with my team, and their determination to get something from the game," he said.

"We knew it would be a difficult game with so many of our top players not here.

"But the new lads wanted to be involved and to prove they could play at this level. They certainly achieved that."

Hughes also refused to blame Jones, who had earlier made several crucial saves, for costing them the victory.

"Paul was disappointed with the goal we conceded, but these things happen in a game, it was a wet night, with a greasy ball and I'm not blaming him.

"I'd rather look to the good points, and that came from Nationwide League players who have shown me they are up to the task."

He continued: "We had new players who hadn't had the benefit of being in our squad before and been able to pick up on what we wanted.

"But they learned quickly and I couldn't have been happier with them."

Simon Davies scored a superb individual goal
Hughes was delighted with Davies' display
Davies gave Wales the perfect start with a wonder goal after 11 minutes - his first international goal.

His all-round performance also pleased Hughes, and the manager is excited about his future potential.

"It was a very special goal and underlined what quality he has," said Hughes.

"He is going to be a big, big Premiership player and also just as important for us in the future.

"He has very quickly become a senior player with us, despite his age. He's influential and has great confidence in his ability.

"It was one of the great international goals that people will watch over and over again."

All the international action

Wednesday's games
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