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European Qualifiers: Wales play host to Cyprus aiming to keep top spot in Group B

Gareth Bale (left): Set to shake off back injury to play

Wales play host to Cyprus at the Cardiff City Stadium aiming to retain top spot in Group B in their European qualifying campaign.

Chris Coleman’s side have made a fine start to qualification, and with four points from their opening two games hope is growing that this could be the campaign that sees them finally reach a major tournament.

Cyprus will be no pushovers though, having shocked Bosnia 2-1 in the opening round of games in Group B before losing 2-1 at home to Israel last Friday.

Wales has won three of its five previous meetings with Cyprus, including two qualifying games by two-goal margins and Wales captain Ashley Williams admits the pressure is on to win their home games.

“The pressure is always on in a group when you have so few games.” Williams said.

“We did not get three points on Friday, but even if we had this was one we would always feel we have to win.

“Cyprus are a dangerous team and if we want to do anything in the group, it is one we must win.”

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Coleman is determined to see his side take all three points so that they can keep top spot at the group ahead of next month’s clash with favourites Belgium.

“This will be a harder game (than Bosnia) because Cyprus are not going to come here and lie down for us,” noted Coleman.

“At times, it might not be pretty but all we need is the result, we’ve got to get the three points and if we do that the draw on Friday is magnificent.

“But whatever we get against the Cypriots, we have to work hard for because they’re a proud nation and they’ll put it on the line.

“But the big prize is sitting top of the group going to Belgium next month and that’s got to be worth it.”

Team news

Having lost 10 players ahead of the Bosnia draw, Wales have suffered further injury misery with Jonny Williams ruled out of the Cyprus game with a damaged ankle.

Williams was impressive against Bosnia but took some heavy knocks, notably from Roma playmaker Miralem Pjanic, and his absence could open the door for Reading’s Hal Robson-Kanu to start after an impressive cameo appearance on Friday night.

The good news is that Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale has shaken off a slight back injury to feature after drawing a rare blank in front of goal against Bosnia.

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Cyprus are likely to be without first-choice goalkeeper Antonis Giorgallides after he picked up a knock in their defeat to Israel.

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