11:55am Wednesday 5th March 2014
BURNLEY striker Sam Vokes believes he’s ready to make the Wales number nine shirt his own in tonight’s friendly against Iceland, writes Andrew Penman.
The 24-year-old has finally made his mark at club level, firing 17 goals as the Clarets close in on promotion to the Premier League.
And now he’s determined to nail down his place in the international side after scoring five goals in 30 games.
“It’s been important for me to establish myself at my club and that’s happened this year,” said Vokes.
“I’ve played a lot of games and hopefully I can take that into this game.
“It’s an important friendly. They’re a tough side who did well in their group last time and it’s a chance for us to get together for the first time in a while.”
Manager Chris Coleman suggested last week that Vokes could fill the big shoes of former Wales hero John Hartson and the man himself is happy with that comparison.
“He was the kind of centre forward that I base my game on and he was a great number nine for Wales,” he said.
“There’s pressure on me but that’s the pressure you always get representing your country.
“But the creativity I’ve got around me is fantastic. It’s hard work up front on your own but hopefully that hard work can pay off.
“I like to think I’m established at club level now and hopefully that can help me with Wales,” he added.
“I want to play and I feel like there is an opportunity for that number nine slot to be filled now with Craig Bellamy retired.”
Vokes is also happy with Wales’ group for the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign and he believes that this squad could qualify for the tournament in France.
“It’s a good draw for us,” said Vokes. “We know what Belgium are all about and Bosnia are a good side as well so we know it’ll be a tough group but it’s one we’re looking forward to.
“This is a squad I’ve grown up with and this is a chance for us to kick on now.
“We’ve got the platform to build on now and with players playing at top clubs we can make a statement in this group.”
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