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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 February 2006, 12:40 GMT
Davies keen to earn Wales chance
By Chris Bevan

Wales striker Craig Davies
Davies joned Verona in an 85,000 move last month
Wales Under-21 striker Craig Davies hopes to use his move to Italy to prove he can be John Hartson's long-term replacement in the senior side.

The 20-year-old joined Serie B side Verona from Oxford United last month.

Davies told BBC Sport: "I have got to concentrate on my club football to get into the picture with the senior side.

"I cannot expect that to just fall into my lap - John's are big shoes to fill. I have really got to work hard in Italy and earn the chance that way."

Davies has already made one brief substitute appearance for the full Welsh side - against Slovenia in August 2005 - and is in the Under-21 squad for the friendly against Northern Ireland on 28 February.

He admits it was a shock when Celtic striker Hartson, 30, elected to call time on his Wales career after 51 caps in 10 years - but understands his decision.

He is an inspiration to young strikers like me - he is a big guy who puts himself about and he scores goals
Craig Davies on John Hartson

"It was a surprise," he added. "But obviously he has got his reasons.

"I played alongside him when I came on against Slovenia and he is a quality player. His hold-up play and his heading is unbelievable.

"Everyone has got to give him respect for what he has done. He has given great service to Welsh football over the years.

"He has always made an effort with the younger players and spoken to us.

"And he is an inspiration to young strikers like me - he is a big guy who puts himself about and he scores goals, you only have to look at his record to see how successful he has been."

Wales manager John Toshack's decision to give younger players like Lewin Nyatanga, Mark Jones and David Cotterill a chance in the senior squad for the game against Paraguay on 1 March has given Davies hope that he is not far away from another call-up himself.

And he feels that despite the retirement of several experienced stars, there is still enough know-how in the Wales side to guide the next generation through.

"It is definitely encouraging to see people like Lewin and David called up," Davies said.

"I know the younger players cannot do it on their own and you need some experience in there as well - but Wales have still got that with the likes of Ryan Giggs and Simon Davies.

"If you have got someone who has been on the international stage for a while it makes it easier for inexperienced players. They take the responsibility which is a big help.

"It is a bit of a blow that players like John and Gary Speed are not around but you cannot be selfish about it.

"They have helped other players through who are now established like Rob Earnshaw, Craig Bellamy and Danny Gabbidon. They have played their part and have helped in the past."

Hartson retires from Wales duties
06 Feb 06 |  Internationals


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