Welsh Ricketts keen on smart start
Sam Ricketts hopes a win against Bosnia-Herzegovina can give Wales the perfect surge of momentum to get off to a strong start in their FIFA World Cup™ qualifying campaign.
Wednesday's friendly in Llanelli is the last chance for Chris Coleman to prepare before the serious business gets under way against Belgium in Cardiff on 7 September. Wales have failed to launch a serious qualification challenge since losing to Russia in a two-legged play-off to reach UEFA EURO 2004.
But a steady optimism had been building with four wins in five games prior to the death of then-manager Gary Speed. Since Speed's death last November, Wales have suffered two defeats against Costa Rica and Mexico, which has sapped much of the positivity over the Dragons' chances of advancing from a group also including Croatia, Serbia, Scotland and Macedonia.
And Bolton full-back Ricketts believes a good start is vital. "In years gone by when we have maybe lost the first couple of games you have thought 'that's it'," said Ricketts, 30. "We know this squad has the capability to bounce back and win the next four or five games to get back into it, but you don't want to be playing catch-up.
"We need to get off to a good start which we haven't done over the last three or four campaigns," he added. "If we do that and get some momentum it gets everyone behind us. We need to play well, perform and win games and the fans will come back as well."
Coleman has been keen to stress that he has not looked to make wholesale changes to the style of play which worked so well under his predecessor, and he still operates the same 4-3-3 system.
But Ricketts says the difference has come in finding ways to deal with the closer attention sides now play to Wales after their climb from 117th to the top 40 of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.
"The general set-up is still there, but we have had to learn," he said. "When everything was going well we were playing plan A in every game and it was working, but when it doesn't work we need to make sure we make plan B as effective.
"We need to win when things aren't going our way and that's what we have been working on recently," he went on. "Teams have been watching us, treating us with a huge amount of respect and we need to come up with another way of playing when things aren't working."