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Page last updated at 14:56 GMT, Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Ian Rush says Cardiff crowd can help Wales beat England

2012 European Championship qualifying Group G - Wales v England
Venue: Millennium Stadium Date: Saturday, 26 March Kick-off: 1500 GMT
Coverage: Full coverage on BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & online, live text commentary and score updates on BBC Sport website.


Ian Rush
Ian Rush made his Wales debut in 1980 scoring 28 goals in 73 games

Ian Rush believes the Millennium Stadium crowd can be a big help to Wales as they try to beat England in the Euro 2012 qualifier on Saturday.

The former Wales striker, capped 73 times, feels the home fans can inspire Gary Speed's side to pull off an upset.

"If we can keep it tight at the back, get the crowd going, we have got a chance," said 49-year-old Rush.

"If Wales can get the first goal, it's going to be a massive advantage for us and I think England might struggle."

It will be the first time since hosting England in 2005 that the Wales football team have played to a full house at the Millennium Stadium.

Former Liverpool striker Rush feels Wales can harness the positive energy from the fans and surprise their visitors.

"Realistically, England have a better squad than Wales but we've got to put every little bit of advantage to our favour," he said.

"It worked against Italy in 2002 [Wales won 2-1] - the crowd were fantastic and the players responded to that and I expect exactly the same against England.

"I think its going to be a fantastic atmosphere there and the support will be great but the players on the pitch have got to maintain the atmosphere and the noise from the Welsh," added Rush, who retired as a player in 1999.

"If you don't want to play in this atmosphere, then you shouldn't be in football - I don't think any of our young players will freeze," said Rush.

"These young players of ours have 20 or 30 caps for Wales already, this is the time for them to stand up and be counted and they've got to transfer their Under-21s performances into senior level, and this is the perfect chance for them.

"This is the game you want to be playing, its fantastic, the adrenalin gets going and everything."

Wales is such a small country so I'd say to everyone to get behind [manager] Gary Speed and give him the best chance possible

Ian Rush

However, Rush's former Liverpool team-mate and ex-England winger John Barnes believes hs country will have the edge.

"The England squad is missing players but they are still the favourites - they still have the more experience. They are England and expect to perform," said Barnes.

"In a one-off situation, where the Millennium Stadium will be full and if Wales have a good start, then anything can happen.

"If Wales can start well and not give England many opportunities then they will grow in confidence, but if England take control of the game early on and dominate, even without scoring, then I think the pressure will be on Wales.

"I still expect England to win because they've still got too much quality for Wales - its going to be a great occasion and a great game."

Rush and Barnes both played alongside new Wales manager Speed, who replaced John Toshack in December last year.

Both men are full of admiration of the former Leeds, Newcastle and Bolton midfielder, who has had one game in charge of Wales since his appointment - a 3-0 defeat by Republic of Ireland.

"Wales is such a small country so I'd say to everyone to get behind Gary and give him the best chance possible," said Rush.

"He's a good lad - he's still learning but at the end of the day he's got some great players there so let's get behind him for once.

"That's the only chance we've got of beating England by everyone sticking together, working hard and helping each other."

Barnes described Speed as being very organised and thorough and said the future looks bright for Wales because of the young players in the squad.

But he warned: "Those youngsters have got to be given time to develop and hopefully Gary will be given that time, not just by the Welsh FA but by the fans.

"Stick with him, you have to support a situation for it to improve."



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see also
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Injured Bale out of England clash
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Terry returns as England captain
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Why Wales hold out Wembley hope
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Welsh FA sorry for ticket blunder
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Wales' international fixtures
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Wales' results 2010
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Euro 2012 qualifying tables
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BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales


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