NATIONAL manager Chris Coleman has broken ranks with his Football Association of Wales bosses by admitting his players’ Olympic adventure with Team GB may have been a good thing after all.
FAW chief executive Jonathan Ford was vehement in his opposition to Welsh participation in Stuart Pearce’s Great Britain side at London 2012.
And Coleman has previously spoken of his concerns that captain Aaron Ramsey and Wales teammates Craig Bellamy, Joe Allen and Neil Taylor could pick up injuries or suspensions at the Olympics.
But, having watched Team GB go out of the competition with defeat to South Korea on penalties in Cardiff last weekend, he now appears to have softened his stance.
Coleman claims that the experience of playing at an international tournament will have helped his players as they prepare for the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign, which starts against Belgium
And the fact that all four players are fit to play in Wednesday’s friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina in Llanelli is a big boost for his plans.
“This is an important game because it’s the last one before Belgium,” said Coleman as he announced his squad for the friendly at Parc y Scarlets.
“I’ve said a lot about Team GB and the timing. If they’d made the final it would have been four days before Bosnia but they didn’t.
“All I’m worried about is our boys being fit for us but I totally respect Stuart Pearce and where he’s coming from. All he cares about is winning games.
“That’s what I care about – winning games for my country – and you have to be selfish that way.
“It wasn’t just the injuries, it was the cards that could have carried over as well but as it’s worked out they’ll probably be fitter now than if they’d had two or three friendlies where they
played for an hour or 45 minutes.
“Most of them got 90 minutes and will be in better shape so it’s worked out better than we expected,” he added.
“Competitive games are more important than pre-season friendlies so, in terms of that, maybe we’ve come out lucky really.”
Coleman is not surprised that Joe Allen has been snapped up by Liverpool after his impressive displays in the Team GB midfield.
“I was impressed with the Welsh players,” he said. “We know how good Joe is and there are not too many better at what he does in the Premier League.
“It was hard for Stuart because he had a group of players who hadn’t played together before but the Welsh boys acquitted themselves well.
“To be fair to Pearcey, he gave me a call two days before the Uruguay game and said ‘we’re in Cardiff, come and have a chat’.
“We had a good meeting and I also had a coffee with Rambo, Bellers and Neil Taylor and they said they really enjoyed the experience.”
One man who missed out on the Olympics through injury is Tottenham star Gareth Bale and Coleman is delighted to have him back for Wednesday’s match.
“I think there were a few concerns because he pulled out of Team GB with the same problems he had before we played Mexico – his lower back and hamstrings,” he said.
“But he’s played a few friendlies for Tottenham and done some training and fingers crossed we are going to get him for the Bosnia game.”
Cardiff City’s Robert Earnshaw is the most notable name missing from the squad.
WALES SQUAD: Jason Brown (Aberdeen), Boaz Myhill (West Bromwich Albion), Owain Fon Williams (Tranmere Rovers), Darcy Blake (Cardiff), James Collins (West Ham), Chris Gunter
(Reading), Adam Matthews (Celtic), Sam Ricketts (Bolton), Neil Taylor (Swansea), Ashley Williams (Swansea), Joe Allen (Swansea), Jack Collison (West Ham), Andrew Crofts (Brighton), David Edwards
(Wolves), Joe Ledley (Celtic), Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal), Gareth Bale (Tottenham), Craig Bellamy (Liverpool), Simon Church (Reading), Steve Morison (Norwich), Hal Robson-Kanu (Reading), Sam Vokes