WALES boss Chris Coleman believes his decision to relieve Aaron Ramsey of the captain’s armband will lift a great weight from the Arsenal star’s shoulders.
As he named his squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Scotland and Croatia, Coleman confirmed that Ashley Williams will be the new national captain.
The beleaguered boss, who has lost all five matches since he took over from the late Gary Speed, says Ramsey took the news well.
Coleman is attempting to stamp his authority on a squad that was beaten 2-0 at home to Belgium before being humbled 6-1 in Serbia last month.
He knows that Friday’s clash with the Scots at Cardiff City Stadium is a must-win game and the hope is that Ramsey’s international form will improve without the added pressure of the captaincy.
“We needed to make some changes,” Coleman said.
“I spoke to Aaron about it, and he was incredibly mature. I was very impressed with him. It was a very professional reaction.
“Of course he is disappointed, but Aaron was great about it, he really was.
“I didn’t know how he’d respond to the news but he was honest. He said he was feeling the pressure of it so I think it is the right thing to do for him and for us.
“I’m confident that he’s going to come and perform,” he added. “He was trying too much (as captain), trying to get the ball all over the pitch.
“He needs to concentrate on himself. I watched him for Team GB and he scored a great goal the other night for Arsenal because he hasn’t got that added pressure.
“Ashley will be the skipper. He is a natural leader. He has experience.”
Coleman has left the door open for Craig Bellamy to be added to his squad after initially omitting the Cardiff City striker.
Bellamy was not among the the 21-man group announced yesterday but two places have been left open.
One of those could be taken by Bellamy and Coleman is expecting to hear from the 33-year-old about his availability tomorrow after Cardiff’s trip to Ipswich Town in the Championship.
Bellamy missed Wales’ opening two Group A matches after suffering a calf injury while playing for his club but he has started the last three matches for the Bluebirds.
Coleman said of the 70-cap striker: “We need to know from Craig whether he is staying with us. I hope he’s with us but if he is not, we have to move forward.”
The other spot could be filled by West Ham’s James Collins. The Newport-born defender was sent-off against Belgium and missed the Serbia match and the FAW are seeking clarification from FIFA as to whether he will face a further ban.
Wales squad: Brown (Aberdeen), Price (Crystal Palace), O F Williams (Tranmere); Blake (Crystal Palace), Davies (Swansea), Gunter (Reading), Lynch (Huddersfield), Matthews (Celtic), Ricketts (Bolton), A Williams (Swansea); Allen (Liverpool), Edwards (Wolves), King (Leicester), Ledley (Celtic), Ramsey (Arsenal), Vaughan (Sunderland); Bale (Tottenham), Church (Reading), Morison (Norwich), Robson-Kanu (Reading), Vokes (Burnley).