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Wednesday, 5 September, 2001, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
Shoulder to stay as U-21 boss
James Thomas
Wales have failed to win in their last 23 matches
Wales under-21 boss Jimmy Shoulder insists he has the full support of national manager Mark Hughes, and therefore has no intention of stepping down as coach.

"Mark fully supports my policies, we work as a team," he said.

The 55-year-old coach has overseen the worst run by any Wales side in the country's history - 23 games without a win.

But after Tuesday's 2-0 defeat by Norway, Shoulder shrugged off any criticism and said he remains unrepentant of his policies and determined to continue the search for new young talent.

The final game of this qualifying game is at Ninian Park against Belarus on October 6.


Shoulder has no other option but to throw in the kids and hope a few players of the quality of Simon Davies, Craig Bellamy and Matthew Jones - all still young enough to play at this level but now in the senior squad - will emerge.

He said: "We will continue with the policy, but there are a few of the older lads who have been great servants at this level for three or four years now, not playing in that last game, and they don't deserve that for all the commitment they have given me.

"Players like Danny Gabbidon, now with 17 caps, who has been outstanding.

"Lads like James Thomas who has taken a constant battering upfront and has a record 21 caps.

"For all his efforts and the bruises he's had to take, it would be an insult not to give him that last game.

"There's also players like Chris Llewellyn, whose been around a long time and deserves that last run-out. David Walsh too in goal.

"He showed his bravery getting badly hurt here against the Norwegians, he's been a great servant to the cause."

Rhys Day
Rhys Day: A bright prospect according to Shoulder
The tone of Shoulder's resolve suggests he is not for walking away.

He added: "We will continue to look at the few lads who will figure on the fringes of the senior squad in the next year or so, but what we will do is continue with the ones who are 19 and will be around for next few squads."

That means Manchester City lad Rhys Day, the new skipper, Bristol Rovers' speedy little striker Kevin Gall, Hull's Michael Price, Everton's Ryan Valentine and Jermaine Easter, now at Hartlepool.

He added: "I don't get any directives from Mark, but he fully supports the policy.

"We work together as a staff and I contribute to the first team.

"We had myself, Eric Harrison and Eddie Niedzwicki all working together with the lads after the Norway game.

"It's a team, it's not just me."

Links to more Wales stories are at the foot of the page.


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