Coleman: I’d play Allen in the No10 role
Wales manager Chris Coleman is considering switching Joe Allen into the advanced position in which he has dazzled for Stoke City.
Allen had always operated as a defensive midfielder – for Swansea City, Liverpool and Wales – until joining the Potters in July. Thereafter, former Dragons forward Mark Hughes has reaped the rewards of deploying the 26-year-old just behind the striker. Allen got two assists to inspire Stoke’s 3-1 win over Swansea on Monday evening, and has scored four goals in his last five appearances.
"Absolutely, I would play him in the No10 role,” Coleman told Press Association Sport. "Depending who we've got, of course, but he could play No10 role all day long.
"You almost want a Joe Allen in front of the back four, starting play, and a Joe Allen just in behind the striker, making the last pass. He's a great player and capable of both."
Allen finished UEFA EURO 2016 with 31 caps and zero goals, but he broke his duck in the 4-0 win over Moldova in 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualifying before breaking the deadlock in a 2-2 draw away to Austria. He attributes his new-found prolificacy to the influence of former Manchester United and Barcelona player Hughes.
“He’s been a special help to my scoring,” Allen said recently. “He’s been telling me what he wants me to do in that type situation. He’s given me more responsibility to push forward, to find myself in the box and to create goals as well as scoring some too.
“Being called a goal machine is something that’s quite weird to me – I’ve never been called it before – but at the moment it’s a nice feeling. The position I’m playing helps. I’m playing in the No10 and because of that I find myself in situations where the ball drops in the box. I’m very confident in front of goal. If you ask pretty much any footballer they’ll talk about the fact that after scoring one or two goals, things come that little bit easier.
Allen missed Wales’ third Russia 2018 qualifier due to a hamstring injury, and his absence was missed as they were held to a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Georgia. That result left the Dragons third in Group D, two points behind Serbia and Republic of Ireland and one above Austria. Wales host Serbia in their final preliminary of the year on 12 November.
"We know the Serbia game is going to be incredibly tough,” said Coleman. "We're up against a team that are strongly fancied to win it, especially the way they've started. But we also know we are a good team and have to do what we did in the last campaign."