WALES manager Chris Coleman would jump at the chance to play a home international friendly at The Racecourse.
The former Fulham boss - who has guided Wales to this summer’s upcoming Euro 2016 finals in France - believes a friendly fixture in Wrexham would be a ‘fantastic reward’ for the loyal support his side have received from North Wales during their successful qualifying campaign.
However, Coleman expressed his reservations about such a fixture taking place, highlighting UEFA’s guidelines on international stadiums with The Racecourse an unsatisfactory venue for international level matches in it’s current state.
“We can’t play in Wrexham, it’s dictated by UEFA on what the grounds must have and unless Wrexham and The Racecourse improves and ticks all the boxes then it won’t be happening sadly,” he explained, speaking at the opening of Gap Connah’s Quay’s new 3G pitch.
“It’s not our choice but until UEFA are satisfied it meets the criteria of an international football stadium, I’m afraid there’s not much we can do.
“Absolutely it’s something I’d like to see happening in the future. Cardiff City is where we play. England play at Wembley, we play at Cardiff City and that is our home ground and I think it’s helped immensely to have that home venue especially for the qualifiers, to create a great atmosphere and it has helped us secure qualification.
“However, England are looking at taking friendlies on the road ahead of France and we’d all be on board with that if we could do a similar thing in Wales, it would be a fantastic reward for all those thousands of fans who travel down to see us.
“If UEFA allowed us to take a game to Wrexham and the facilities were what is needed, then absolutely we’d want to come.”
Coleman hailed the ‘outstanding’ support his side have received throughout the qualification period, and expressed his sympathy for fans from North Wales for having to travel to Cardiff for midweek and Friday night kick-offs throughout the past two years.
“The support we’ve seen in North Wales and throughout the country has been quite simply, outstanding,” Coleman said.
“I travel around the country to different clubs, for openings of facilities and to talk in the evenings, and all the way through the response we have had has been absolutely unbelievable.
“It’s never easy for fans to travel down from the north to the games on a Friday night, and those fixtures are dictated by UEFA. Believe me, if we had it our way we wouldn’t play on Friday nights, we’d play on the Saturday afternoon so we can get more people to be able to come down for the day.
“It’s not easy for north Walians but they come down and support us in their numbers and the support has been absolutely fantastic, really terrific.”
Coleman was keen to point out Wrexham-born duo Tom Lawrence and Danny Ward both stood a good chance of making his final squad for this summer’s European Championships, where Wales will face Slovakia, England and Russia in their group.
Lawrence has been on-loan at Blackburn Rovers this season from Leicester City, scoring twice during that period, and has since joined Cardiff City until the end of the season, while former Wrexham goalkeeper Ward has recently been recalled by Liverpool after a highly successful loan spell at Aberdeen, keeping 13 clean sheets in just 27 appearances.
Ward has also been added to Liverpool’s Europa League squad.
“Both Tom and Danny are doing very, very well,” he added. “Tom is doing well on-loan at Blackburn and he’s doing really well, even though he’s been asked to play in a few different positions.
“Danny has gone up to Scotland and done fantastic and now he’s come back to Liverpool and hopefully he’ll get his chance soon. Both those players are in with a good chance of making the squad for the tournament.”
“The next Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey or Ashley Williams, they’re all out there and we’re always looking at clubs in North Wales for the latest talent.
“Our involvement at a grassroots level in Wales should always be at the forefront of our thinking and how can we make it better for Welsh football.”
For all the latest on Wales in the run-up to Euro 2016, see your copy of the Leader, available every weekday.
See full story in the Advertizer