Barry Horne: Ex-captain optimistic over Wales' Euro 2016 chances

Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale
Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale

Wales have a "genuine chance" of qualifying for a major tournament according to former national team captain Barry Horne.

Horne led Wales during their 1994 World Cup qualifying campaign, which was dashed in the final qualifier with a home defeat against Romania.

The former Everton midfielder expects the current side, with Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, to qualify for Euro 2016.

"I am genuinely optimistic, with my head and not my heart," Horne said.

The Euro 2016 finals are being hosted by France, who qualify automatically, and will be made up of 24 nations, an increase from 16 in the current format.

The top two teams in each of the nine groups will reach the tournament finals, along with the best third-placed finisher while the remaining eight third-placed teams go into play-offs in November 2015.

"The new tournament format, the fact that more teams qualify, is obviously going to help us," Horne added.

Barry Horne
Horne won 59 caps for Wales between 1988 and 1996

"We're always in that group that may qualify or may not.

"I think we've got a good group in terms of the possibility of progressing from it and I think we've got a good squad of players."

Wales will begin their Euro 2016 campaign away to Andorra on Tuesday, 9 September in a group which also includes Israel and Cyprus.

Chris Coleman's side will also face Bosnia-Hercegovina and Belgium, who recently featured in the World Cup finals in Brazil.

Horne, who won 59 caps and is now Wrexham's football operations chief, says Real Madrid's Bale and Ramsey of Arsenal will be crucial to Wales' hopes of qualifying.

Both players missed June's 2-0 friendly defeat in the Netherlands and Horne says Wales need their best players fit and available.

"You look at Argentina, Colombia and Brazil - there's nothing wrong in having a couple of players that are outstandingly good," Horne said.

"I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that they stay fit and play well.

"If Chris can keep his best players fit, the group that we've got, and looking at the way they've played in recent [games], I am genuinely hopeful and optimistic that we can finally get to a major finals."

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