Chris Gunter: Wales players want Chris Coleman to stay as manager

Chris Gunter
Only Neville Southall and Gary Speed have earned more caps for Wales than Chris Gunter

Chris Gunter expects Wales' senior players to attempt to persuade manager Chris Coleman to remain in charge of the national side.

Coleman has said he will step down when his current contract expires at the end of the 2018 World Cup campaign.

Wales' chances of reaching Russia hang in the balance but Reading defender Gunter insists, whatever happens, Coleman is the players' choice.

"He'll have the players trying to persuade him to stay," said Gunter.

Coleman has proved a hugely popular figure in the Wales dressing room since taking over in 2012 and led the nation to the semi-finals at Euro 2016.

Gunter, who signed a new three-year deal at his club Reading this week, maintains much of the credit for the success must be given to Coleman himself.

'We love playing for him'

"He's been a huge part of what we've done, he's done what no other manger in the past has managed with Wales and we hope he will stay because we love playing for him," Gunter told BBC Wales Sport.

"The manger knows that if he went around the squad of 23 players and asked them if we wanted him to stay, I'm sure every single player would want him to stay.

"He knows that. Hopefully, if he can be persuaded to stay then he would have the backing of every single player."

Wales' aim to reach a World Cup tournament for the first time since 1958 has been dogged by a frustrating qualification campaign.

They have now drawn their last five matches in Group D, including a creditable 1-1 result at current table-toppers Serbia last month.

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With four games left, Wales remain four points behind the Republic of Ireland, who currently lie in second place. But Newport-born Gunter believes he and his team-mates are still very much in the hunt.

"One hundred per cent we are still in it," added Gunter, who at the age of just 27 is Wales' third most capped player with 79 appearances

"We've drawn more than we would have liked. Obviously we'd like to have a couple more points on the board. But we've got enough games and enough points where we can still affect the group.

"We've got tough games left, but if we can improve slightly on what we've done then there's no reason why we can't put a string of results together.

"We've shown in the past we can put a run of wins together."

Penalties 'worst possible ending'

On the domestic front, Gunter said he was delighted to sign a new three-year deal with the Royals, who he joined in July 2012 following spells at Nottingham Forest, Tottenham and Cardiff City.

And after suffering a heart-breaking defeat via a penalty shoot-out at the hands of Huddersfield in the Championship play-off final in May, Gunter said he was more determined then ever to see the Berkshire club in contention for Premier League promotion next season.

Gunter said: "There was interest from a couple of other clubs, but once I spoke to the manger here and the offer was made I wanted to stay.

"We had a good season last year, but obviously a disappointing end.

"The disappointment and the hurt we felt can only make us better and can only make us more hungry because it was the worst possible ending.

"It did hurt, but quite quickly as a footballer you flip that and turn it into a positive. We need to use the hurt in a good way to go that one step further."

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