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'Must win' for Gareth

Gareth Bale's focus is firmly fixed on one game even though Wales face a key double-header in World Cup qualifying.

Gareth Bale's focus is firmly fixed on one game even though Wales face a key double-header in World Cup qualifying.

The full-back is with Spurs team-mate Chris Gunter - currently on loan at Forest - in the Wales squad for WC 2010 qualifiers against Finland on Saturday and Germany on Wednesday, both at the Millennium Stadium.

Wales go into the first of those games against Finland on Saturday placed third in WCQ Group Four, level on points with Russia but having played a game more. They have won home matches against Azerbaijan and Liechtenstein but lost narrowly away to both Germany and Russia.

The nine group winners in European qualifying go through to South Africa with the eight best runners-up in a play-off for the final four places.

So Wales need to get above Russia and keep out Finland - and that starts on Saturday.

"The first game against Finland is definitely a must-win game," said Gareth. "So hopefully we can get the win and it will give us a kick start for the Germany game.

"I would not say that if we don't beat Finland that is it, but it is a massive game.

"If we win, we have a chance of qualifying. So we are just concentrating on the game on Saturday and hopefully we will get the right result."

Speaking more generally on his all-round game, Gareth, still just 19, added: "I'm working hard in training and I am still learning all the aspects of my game so hopefully I can improve.

"I need to improve on my defensive side. I work with Kevin Bond on one-on-ones and positional play. We talk about it and look at previous games and recap and do some analysis of our play.

"I love to go forward and attack but I need to work on my defensive side."


We have five played set for Under-21 friendly action on Friday night.

Jamie O'Hara, Fraizer Campbell and Tom Huddlestone are with England in Norway - kick-off 5.30pm.

Dorian Dervite, impressing on loan at Southend, is with France U21s against Estonia while keeper Oscar Jansson is in the Swedish squad taking on Belgium.


Saturday is a busy day both in World Cup qualifying and friendly action.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto (Cameroon), Giovani (Mexico), Chris Gunte, Gareth Bale (Wales), Alan Hutton (Scotland), Robbie Keane (Republic of Ireland), Aaron Lennon (England), Wilson Palacios (Honduras), Roman Pavlyuchenko (Russia), Adel Taarabt (Morocco) could all be in action.

Didier Zokora then faces a WCQ with Ivory Coast at home to Malawi on Sunday.