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Page last updated at 07:30 GMT, Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Jack Collison's warning to John Toshack's young Wales

Collison up for midfield responsibility

Jack Collison has warned his promising Welsh team-mates that the Euro 2012 qualifiers is the time to deliver.

John Toshack's young squad have been drawn with England for the qualifying campaign as they share Group G with Switzerland, Bulgaria and Montenegro.

Wales begin their Euro preparations on Wednesday in a friendly against Sweden at Swansea's Liberty Stadium.

Collison said: "We've a lot of good young players but it's time to show we can compete at this level."

The West Ham midfielder has graduated into Wales boss Toshack's senior team alongside Aaron Ramsey, Gareth Bale, Chris Gunter, Simon Church and Wayne Hennessey in recent years.

But Arsenal's teenage playmaker Ramsey could miss the start of Wales' Euro 2012 qualification campaign on 4 September after suffering a horrific double leg break - an injury that required surgery - in Arsenal's 3-1 win at Stoke City on Saturday.

And Toshack has cast doubt on experienced captain Craig Bellamy's international future when asked why the veteran coach rested the on-form Manchester City star for Wednesday's friendly with Sweden.

Jack Collison
Now it's about showing we can compete at this level and really having a go

Wales midfielder Jack Collison

So Collison, a regular in Premier League West Ham's midfield, knows that Wales' youngsters must quickly start to fulfil their enormous potential.

"There should be no more talk of potential," the 21-year-old told BBC Sport.

"It was brilliant to draw England and we're all excited, it is a mouth-watering game.

"But we are not there to make up the numbers, we are to there to start showing we are good players and we can compete.

"We've a lot of a good young players who have come through together and there has been a lot of talk about this good group.

"It is about time to start showing it - and we have a great opportunity for us on Wednesday before we start the qualifiers."

Welsh football chiefs will meet with their Group G rivals on 15 March to discuss the fixture schedule but Ramsey, Wales' key creative force, may miss the opening European qualifiers.

So Toshack must prepare his young team for European battle without Ramsey - starting against Sweden.

Wales are in talks to play a friendly against a Brittany representative side in May before an international friendly in Croatia.

Toshack may then arrange another international on the designated friendly date on 11 August.

King hopes for tough Swede test

"Now is the time to work together and prepare for the Euro qualifiers," said Collison.

Wales have never beaten Sweden in five meetings and have lost four in a row since their first clash, a goalless draw, in the group stages of the 1958 World Cup finals - the only time Wales have appeared in a major tournament final.

The Welsh are seeking their third successive victory so Collison is looking forward to Sweden's visit to Swansea, albeit minus superstar Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

"It will give us a chance to test ourselves. Now it's about showing we can compete at this level and really having a go."

Leicester City's rising star Andy King and experienced Fulham creator Simon Davies are expected to play alongside Collison in a Wales midfield without injured quintet Ramsey, Dave Edwards, Joe Ledley, Joe Allen and Brian Stock.

"We're growing as a group and hopefully we can keep improving and qualify for a tournament," said King.



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see also
Toshack casts doubt over Bellamy
01 Mar 10 |  Welsh
Wales 0-1 Sweden
03 Mar 10 |  Welsh
Saunders to turn down Wales call
28 Feb 10 |  Welsh
Ramsey has surgery on broken leg
28 Feb 10 |  Arsenal
Wales in talks to play Brittany
26 Feb 10 |  Welsh
England face Wales in Euro group
07 Feb 10 |  Football
Wales to host Sweden in friendly
12 Jan 10 |  Welsh
Wales' international fixtures
22 Aug 07 |  Welsh
Wales' results archive
10 Oct 05 |  Welsh
Pick your Wales XI
05 Feb 07 |  Welsh
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales


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