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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 9, 2009

Toshack undecided over Gabbidon

Wales boss John Toshack is facing a tough decision over whether to risk playing West Ham United defender Danny Gabbidon against Russia in Wednesday night's World Cup qualifier at the Millennium Stadium.

Toshack is concerned with Gabbidon's lack of match-fitness after playing just two games since missing almost two years of action through injury.

Gabbidon played in last month's friendly in Montenegro, but Toshack believes using the 30-year-old against Guus Hiddink's Russians may be too much of a gamble.

He will make a final decision nearer kick-off, but Peterborough's Craig Morgan is on standby for the Group Four encounter.

Toshack said: "Danny has missed the best part of two years, and he's only played two games since. His match-fitness is not what we would have liked. But we do not have enough experienced players around to maybe think of not using him.

"It is a difficult situation for an important match like this. But the quicker Danny does get games under his belt the better for us and his club. Danny is 30, and still has plenty of football left in him. Whether or not we play him against Russia, I don't know.

"He is not as match fit as we would want. But we do need him and his experience now and in the future. But I still have not decided whether he will start the game, even though it is good to have him back and playing."

Toshack will make changes from the young side that won their last qualifier in Azerbaijan in June.

"Some of the lads who did so well in Azerbaijan will not play this time, I have spoken to them and they have a right to be disappointed," he said.

"But we need experience against a very good Russian side. This is the toughest group, I feel, with two of the top half-dozen sides in the world.

"So we need people like Gabbidon, James Collins, Sam Ricketts and Craig Bellamy who did not play in Azerbaijan."

Wales were unlucky to lose 2-1 against the Russians in Moscow last October.

Toshack said: "The players know they came close to a decent result, losing despite an excellent performance. If they know they did well there, they must be looking to be even better this time.

"If we can repeat that kind of performance we have a chance. But Russia are a very good side, and we expect them to start the game strongly. We are expecting a tough game.

"They need to win, they can still take first place from the Germans, so they will be at their best."

Russia are in second place in the group, one point behind Germany and must win in Cardiff to maintain their challenge, with the Germans at home to Azerbaijan on Wednesday night.

Russia boss Hiddink believes Arsenal midfielder Andrey Arshavin will be fit following a groin strain, but he has serious doubts over Chelsea wing-back Yuri Zhirkov, who is struggling with a knee injury.

Dinamo Moscow centre-back Denis Kolodin is out with a hamstring problem while Zenit St Petersburg midfielder Igor Denisov is suspended.

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