10:02am Friday 11th October 2013
By Andrew Penman
WALES manager Chris Coleman admits that he and James Collins are never going to be best friends but they have patched up their differences for the good of the country.
Under-pressure Coleman clashed with Newport-born Collins when the manager accused the West Ham defender of rejecting the chance to join the Wales squad before their World Cup qualifier with Serbia in September.
Collins had denied that claim, but met Coleman on Wednesday and is now expected to start tonight’s qualifier against Macedonia in Cardiff with an incredible 15 players unavailable.
“I spoke to him on Monday,” said Coleman. “James called me and we had a chat, which we needed to have.
“He travelled down on Wednesday and we had a good conversation.
“He told me where he was coming from and I said where I was coming from.
“James thought he was being singled out but he wasn’t. I explained my reasons, he accepted that and he’s here.
“We’ don’t have to agree on everything,” he added. “The most important thing is can we move forward and we can. He had a problem with his phone and it is what it is. The important thing is his desire to play for Wales.
“If he didn’t want to play for his country he wouldn’t have travelled down here. We didn’t have a cuddle but it was a good conversation.
“We don’t have that great a quantity of players and when you’ve got a Premier League centre-back and you can work things out you do it.”
Striker Sam Vokes is the latest injury victim and Coleman admits that the number of absentees does not help his cause as he aims to secure his future as national manager.
“It’s never easy when you have to make that many changes,” he said. “We’ve got 15 unavailable but whether I like it or not you’re judged on results.
“Whatever happens I’m here to the end of campaign. I’ve never walked in my career.
“What happens after that I don’t know; what will be, will be.
“I’m not thinking about that. I’m focusing on Macedonia and then we have a quick turnaround for Belgium, who are the outstanding team in the group.”
Arsenal star Aaron Ramsey will captain the side tonight in a game that will also see the penultimate international appearance of Craig Bellamy’s career.
But Coleman says he did not consider giving the armband to the veteran Cardiff City forward.
“In football there is no room for sentiment,” said the manager. “Aaron is very much the future of Welsh football. He’s the best man for the job if we haven’t got Ashley, an ideal replacement.
“Aaron has matured and he’s playing type of football we all thought he was capable of.
“He’s in a better frame of mind now, playing with more freedom and more confidence.
“And when he was captain last time, Aaron will tell you, it was a relief for him at the time (to lose the captaincy to Ashley Williams).
“He’s an important player for us; he needed to concentrate on his own game. He’s done that and he’s playing brilliantly now.
“Craig has made right decision in calling it a day,” he added. “He’s been a good servant. He’s approaching 80 caps and that is a good shift but the next campaign will be a tough one.
“As a player you know when enough is enough. You keep coming until you can’t perform any more and when that time comes you know it.”
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