Tudur Jones: The late call was unexpected
Wales midfielder Owain Tudur Jones is keen to seize his chance after being handed a late call-up to the national squad for this week's Nations Cup matches in Dublin. The out-of-favour Norwich player has not played for the national team in two years, but has benefited from the raft of injuries and withdrawals which have affected Gary Speed's squad.
Tudur Jones spent the second half of the season on loan at Brentford as Canaries boss Paul Lambert had found other midfield options, but is now in line to make his first appearance for the national team since winning the last of his four caps as a substitute against Azerbaijan in Baku in June 2009 during a 2010 FIFA World Cup™ qualifier.
With manager Gary Speed eager to share the load of two matches in three days, starting against Scotland on Wednesday and followed by Northern Ireland on Friday, there is every chance he will get a run out.
"I thought I was on my summer holidays and enjoying a bit of golf and to get the late call was very unexpected, but it is certainly something to look forward to," said the 26-year-old. "Gary Speed and his staff are trying to stamp their own authority on the squad and trying to mould the squad into the way they want it to perform.
"It's enjoyable to be a part of that and just to see it because sometimes when you are looking from the outside you don't necessarily see all the details. It's nice to be involved in this new set-up. There is enough young talent and potential within the squad to create something pretty special over the next few years."
Injury thins Speed's options
Tudur Jones' club-mate Andrew Crofts was not selected because of a thumb injury, while Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder David Edwards joined Lewin Nyatanga and Ched Evans on the sidelines with injury when he pulled out yesterday, while Championship play-off finalists Ashley Williams, Joe Allen, Simon Church and Hal Robson-Kanu are all unavailable.
Craig Bellamy, Speed's most experienced player, is a major doubt after a hamstring injury forced him to miss Cardiff's play-off semi-final second-leg defeat to Reading, while Coventry's Freddy Eastwood is struggling and Celtic's Joe Ledley is also unlikely to feature.
It leaves the Wales boss well below strength in terms of selection as he goes looking for his first win in charge having lost the first match of the Nations Cup against the Republic of Ireland and then defeated by England in a UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier.
"It is an opportunity to see what everybody can do - not just the games, but getting a good week's training under our belts and a bit of togetherness, which is important for a small nation like Wales," added Tudur Jones.
"We obviously lack some strength in depth in terms of players and maybe the facilities that other nations have got, so we have to find the extra percentages in other places. I think if you can get a good balance where there is a bit of banter flying about and you get the feel you normally get at your club that will be an important thing for this squad.
"We'll be going out trying to get some goals and of course, get that win. The result is more important in the football industry but we'll be trying to pull out a couple of good performances as well."