WORLD Cup hopefuls Wales won’t give Russia “any breathing time whatsoever” in tonight’s qualifying clash at Spytty Park, according to head coach Jayne Ludlow.

Wales sit second behind England in Group 1 but qualification for next year’s finals in France is still in Ludlow’s team’s hands with two pool stage matches to go.

Victory in Newport (kick-off 7pm) would put Wales in pole position going into their last qualifier, which is against the English on August 31.

And a sell-out crowd will see if the Welsh women can put themselves on the brink of a first ever World Cup appearance.

While the Russians lost 3-1 to England last Friday, Wales saw off a stubborn Bosnian outfit at Swansea’s Liberty Stadium 24 hours earlier.

Kayleigh Green’s second-half strike proved to be the only goal of the game, coming just minutes after record scorer Helen Ward had missed from the penalty spot.

Looking ahead to this evening’s crunch encounter, former Arsenal star Ludlow said: “It’s a nice thought – two wins and we qualify.

“We’re obviously happy with our development over the last few months.

“We’ve picked up points in all the games so far and we’re really happy with that, and that’s the idea for Russia.

“We’ve had to prepare in a certain way. They are a very strong team and have been in major tournaments in the past.

“They slipped up early on in this competition but are clawing their way back.

“And even though they lost against England recently, at the end of the day it’s always hard against that top level opposition for those teams ranked below the top 10.

“We’re expecting tough competition. We’re preparing really well and obviously want to pick up points from this game, and we’re looking forward to it.”

She added: “At the end of the day we’re a very small nation. For us to get any success in football tournaments, male or female, we have to step on the pitch and fight every time.

“Every time we put that Welsh jersey on we’re not expected to out-possess most teams, we’re expected to step on the pitch and win battles, and that’s no different come Russia.

“Our plan is to step on the pitch and get in their faces. We’re not giving them any breathing time whatsoever, and if we do that I’m sure we’ll shock them a little bit.”

Despite being within touching distance of a World Cup debut, Ludlow insists her players are not feeling the pressure.

She said: “There is pressure on them but not necessarily to win games right now, it’s to be at the forefront of a sport that’s growing and has a lot of growth to do.

“We need more young players taking up the game and wanting to be like these guys.

“Obviously our environment changes in the next 10 years if that happens.

“Lots of these players have been together for many years. They came into the team when they were babies and they’ve continued growing and developing.

“They’re now in a situation where there are some babies with them and they are having to help them do the same.

“That’s always probably going to be the reality for us as a small nation.

“It’s an environment the girls respond really well to, they help each other, and if they continue doing that I’m sure they’ll get the success they want.”