Wales manager Mark Hughes has named a 28-man squad for next month's two-legged UEFA EURO 2004™ play-off against Russia in Moscow and Cardiff - games which he labelled "possibly the most important matches in the history of Welsh football".
Newcastle United FC forward Craig Bellamy is missing following the sixth knee operation of his career, but Hughes has gambled by naming Simon Davies, Robbie Savage, Mark Pembridge and Robert Page in his party despite worries over their fitness. "There are no surprises in the squad," Hughes said. "I think that one of the strengths of the set-up has been that the players know my system in every respect, from playing to our training regime."
Birmingham City FC have advised Savage, who has an achilles problem, to rest for a fortnight so his availability will be in doubt until just before the first leg on 15 November. Tottenham Hotspur FC midfield player Davies has a thigh injury and has not played since Wales's draw with Finland on 10 September.
Fulham FC midfield player Pembridge, meanwhile, has a thigh problem, and Page, a defender with Sheffield United FC, has been suffering from a chipped ankle bone but both should be fit.
Cardiff City FC's Rhys Weston is missing following a cartilage operation but Jason Koumas returns after suspension, and Hughes said: "Next week will be very important for them to see how they progress.
"Success in these two games will help to take the game in Wales to a higher level than ever before. The match in Moscow will be a great test, both because of the quality of opposition and the weather conditions, but I am happy that we will have our preparations right when the time comes."
Jones, Crossley, Ward, Coyne, Barnard, Blake, Davies, Delaney, Earnshaw, Edwards, Gabbidon, Giggs, Hartson, Johnson, Koumas, Melville, Oster, Page, Pembridge, Roberts, Robinson, Savage, Speed, Symons, Taylor, Trollope, Vaughan, Williams.
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