Wales v Northern Ireland: Coleman expecting "feisty" derby

Chris Coleman (left) & Michael O'Neill

Wales will be without several first-team players for their Euro 2016 warm-up match against Northern Ireland - but manager Chris Coleman still expects a full-blooded derby.

Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey, Ben Davies and Hal Robson-Kanu are among eight players out injured for Wales.

Northern Ireland are without defender Chris Baird and midfielder Chris Brunt, who will miss Euro 2016.

But Coleman says: "It will be a bit feisty and that's what we want."

He added: "When we play each other we don't want to lose to a neighbouring country.

"I know Michael and I know the mentality of Northern Ireland. They won't be wanting to come here thinking it is just a little warm-up game before the tournament."

Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale is Wales' is joint-fifth top scorer with 19 goals in 54 caps

Wales' talismanic forward Bale was left out of the squad in a joint decision between the Football Association of Wales and his club Real Madrid.

Ramsey, James Collins, Andy King and David Edwards are out through injury and illness, while Neil Taylor is rated as doubtful having missed Swansea City's 1-0 win over Aston Villa because of a dead leg.

Their absences could create opportunities for the likes of Leicester forward Tom Lawrence, currently on loan at Cardiff City, and Liverpool goalkeeper Danny Ward, who is expected to make his debut against Northern Ireland.

"We've got a few missing but that gives us a chance with some of the other lads that have either had no experience before or very little," said Coleman.

"When we picked this squad and we had quite a few pull-outs it wasn't that disappointing because we get to see one or two new faces, and they'll get their chance."

Northern Ireland could hand debuts to two players, having named uncapped Peterborough defender Michael Smith, 27, and striker Conor Washington in their squad.

Queens Park Rangers striker Washington, 23, qualifies through the grandparent rule and used to play for Peterborough and Newport County.

Conor Washington
Conor Washington worked as a postman before he signed for Newport from St Ives Town in 2012

Time to experiment?

The absence of so many familiar names could mean experimentation is a common theme for Wales and Northern Ireland at the Cardiff City Stadium, with both teams preparing for this summer's European Championships.

The competition in France will end two long waits for an appearance at a major tournament - 58 years for Wales and 30 for Northern Ireland.

For Wales, this will be another opportunity to adapt to life without Bale and Ramsey, as they did in November's friendly defeat to the Netherlands.

With uncapped striker Washington in their ranks, Northern Ireland will be hoping to improve a dismal recent scoring record in friendlies.

They have scored only one goal in their last 17 friendlies away from home, a run stretching back nine-and-a-half years.

Match facts

Head-to-head

  • In their 94 meetings, Wales have won 44, Northern Ireland have won 27 and there have been 23 draws.
  • This will be the first match contested between the two sides in Wales since a 2-2 draw in a World Cup qualifier in September 2004.
  • In that game, three players were sent off - Robbie Savage for Wales, plus Michael Hughes and David Healy for Northern Ireland.

Wales

  • Wales' loss to the Netherlands in November is their only defeat in nine at home (W5 D3).
  • Gareth Bale, who will miss this game, scored seven of Wales's 11 goals in qualifying for Euro 2016.
  • Wales are unbeaten in seven internationals against Northern Ireland (W4 D3).

Northern Ireland

  • Michael O'Neill has never won an away friendly during his time as Northern Ireland manager (D2 L5).
  • Stuart Dallas is the only Northern Ireland player to score a friendly goal away from home in the last nine-and-a-half years. That came in the victory over Qatar at Gresty Road in May 2015.
  • Northern Ireland's last win over Wales was in May 1980.

MOST RECENT MEETING

Wales 2-0 Northern Ireland (27 May, 2011)

Goals from Aaron Ramsey and Robert Earnshaw earned Wales a comfortable win over Northern Ireland in a Nations Cup clash in Dublin.

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