WALES captain Ashley Williams is desperate to beat the Republic of Ireland in tomorrow night’s UEFA Nations League opener at the Cardiff City Stadium but he admits it won’t make up for the pain of missing out on the World Cup.

Williams was at fault as Jeff Hendrick charged down his clearance and crossed for James McClean to score the goal that denied Wales a play-off spot in their final qualifier against the Irish in Cardiff last October.

And the skipper wants to put that night behind him as he prepares to lead out Wales in their first home match under new manager Ryan Giggs after victory over the hosts and a narrow defeat to Uruguay in the China Cup and a 0-0 draw with Mexico in the USA.

“The pain lasted a while,” said Williams of last year’s defeat to Ireland. “It was quite a bad one. We were all hurting a lot but you get over it. There’s more games to play and you have to get on with it.

“I don’t think a win would erase the pain of that night but it would be nice.

“We want to win but not to put that right – we missed the World Cup and we can’t get that back now.

“There’s no grudge,” he added. “We’re professionals and there’s a lot of reasons why we want to win this game.

“We’re at home and we haven’t played at home for a while and it means a little bit more than the Mexico or the China games because of the competition we’re in.

“We want to get off to a good start and a lot of people want to impress the manager.”

For his part, Giggs is relishing the chance to take charge of the national team for the first time in Wales – 11 years after his international retirement as a player.

“It’s a proud moment for me,” said the former Manchester United star. “I’m very excited and I can’t wait for the game to come.

“I’ll definitely be more nervous because I never really got nervous as a player. As a manager it’s different – you have a lot of things going through your mind.

“I want the team to work hard, to be hard to beat and to play attractive football – football that I would want to watch.

“I want the players to go out and express themselves and do what they’re good at.”

One man who will have no problem in expressing himself is Gareth Bale and he’s looking forward to playing in front of the Welsh fans once again.

“We’re looking to get off to a good start,” said the Real Madrid ace.

“We’re obviously excited to have a new manager, a new regime, and we’re really looking forward to getting it all started.

“It’s an exciting format and there’s supposedly no friendlies anymore. It’s nice to have more competitive games and I suppose it’s good for the fans as well.

“Hopefully they can turn out again – the Red Wall supporting us like they always do – and give us that extra boost so that we can keep winning games, keep climbing up the rankings and keep qualifying for major tournaments.

“The fans have been massive for us,” added Bale. “You can see when the team is getting a little bit tired they pick us up by singing the national anthem and we really do feel it on the pitch.

“We do get that little bit of extra energy that we need and hopefully they can turn out again, show their full support and get behind the team and we’ll give them everything as well.”