MacDonald underlines size of Wales’ task

Shaun MacDonald is in the Welsh squad
Shaun MacDonald is in the Welsh squad

Shaun MacDonald admits everyone in the Wales squad is pumped-up for tonight’s crunch World Cup qualifier against Serbia.

Wales, surprise semi-finalists at the Euros last summer, go into the game third in Group D after three matches.

Chris Coleman’s men are two points behind Ireland and the table-topping Serbians, who have both started with two wins and a draw. Having dropped a couple of precious points in their last outing against Georgia last month, Wigan Athletic midfielder MacDonald admits no-one in the camp will be under any illusions about the size of the task facing them in Cardiff this evening (kick-off 7.45pm).

“It’s obviously a very big game for us,” he told the Evening Post.

“I remember the game a few years ago when we played Serbia away and lost 6-1.

“We know how big a threat they can pose and we’ll have plenty of respect for them on the night. It’ll be a tough game, but they’re all tough games at this level.

Gareth is amazing... we’re lucky to have such a magical player

“Everyone expected us to beat Georgia at home in the last game, but they made it very difficult for us and could even have ended up winning the game.

“Every team has their own stars and they own way of playing, and you have to deal with that.”

With seven games to go, there’s clearly plenty of time to put things right – although MacDonald says Wales want to put down a marker sooner rather than later. “We’re still unbeaten, and if we win on Saturday then it’s still been a good start for us,” he acknowledged.

“But it’s our last competitive game until March, and that’s a long time to spend thinking about a negative result.

“We know the Wales fans will be up for the game, and we want to put in a performance that does that justice.

“They can be our 12th man on the night, they keep us going in games when sometimes the legs have gone, and we need to make home advantage count.”

Much will again depend on Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale, who was this week named Welsh player of the year for the sixth time – and the fourth year in a row.

“Gareth is amazing, you can’t not look up to someone like that,” MacDonald added.

“He’s dealt with everything that’s come along so well, and we’re lucky to have such a magical player in the team.”