Players the priority says Wales boss Gary Speed

2011 CARLING NATIONS CUP - Wales v Scotland & Northern Ireland

Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Wednesday, 25 May - Friday, 27 May
1945 BST
Live commentary on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & online and score updates on BBC Radio 5 Live & BBC Sport website
Gary Speed
Wales boss Gary Speed retired as an international player in 2004

Wales boss Gary Speed says he will make full use of his squad for the Carling Nations Cup matches against Scotland and Northern Ireland in Dublin.

Speed's side face two games in three days and he is keen to protect his players from injury.

The side to face Scotland on Wednesday at the Aviva Stadium is not expected to include Premier League players.

"We want to win every game we play in but we also have a duty to protect the players," Speed said.

Wales' Premier League contingent are likely to sit out the Scotland game after a long season and saved for Friday's match against Northern Ireland.

"My priority is to win the games but also to look after the health of my players. I think the schedule we've been given has made us make those decisions," Speed said.

"Any player, coming to the end of the season, doesn't want to go into his holidays or pre season injured."

Wales lost 3-0 against hosts the Republic of Ireland in their opening match of the Nations Cup in February, while the Republic beat Northern Ireland 5-0 on Tuesday night.

And Speed, whose side is yet to record a win since he took charge last December, is expecting a tough test against Scotland.

"We know it's going to be difficult," added Speed. "Scotland are a good team playing well at the moment.

"For us it's an opportunity to move on and develop towards what's important - the next round of [Euro 2012] qualifiers

"We have put a plan in place to the players, and this is part of the plan, to go on the next step and carry on improving until we get to those next qualifiers."

Wales will play their final match of the tournament against Northern Ireland on Friday - 48 hours after the Scotland game.

And Speed has once again voiced his frustration with the competition's schedule.

"If we were to do it again I'd like to be involved in the organising of it," added Speed. "Certainly I wouldn't have agreed to two games in three days.

"It's not really a level playing field in that respect but we can use it to try and develop and improve the way we play."

Captain Aaron Ramsey is among the Premier League stars who will miss the Scotland game, which has meant Speed has had to name a new skipper.

Striker Robert Earnshaw is the man he has chosen, and Speed says the Nottingham Forest player's attitude is an example to others.

"He's the type of player we need," said Speed. "He's always here, he always gives his best and he deserves to be captain.

"If we are going to be successful we need more people like Robert Earnshaw."

Wales squad: Wayne Hennessey (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Boaz Myhill (West Bromwich Albion), Lewis Price (Crystal Palace); Darcy Blake (Cardiff City), Danny Collins (Stoke City), Adam Matthews (Cardiff City), Neal Eardley (Blackpool), Danny Gabbidon (West Ham United), Chris Gunter (Nottingham Forest), Lewin Nyatanga (Bristol City), Craig Morgan (Preston North End), Neil Taylor (Swansea City); Jack Collison (West Ham United), David Cotterill (Swansea City), Andy King (Leicester City), Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal, capt), David Vaughan (Blackpool), Andy Dorman (Crystal Palace), Owain Tudur Jones (Norwich City); Jermaine Easter (Crystal Palace), Craig Bellamy (Manchester City, on loan Cardiff City), Rob Earnshaw (Nottingham Forest), Freddie Eastwood (Coventry City), Steve Morison (Millwall), Sam Vokes (Wolverhampton Wanderers).

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