Allen reflects on previous Serbia visit
11 June 2017

Allen reflects on previous Serbia visit

Joe Allen insists Wales are “a million miles away” from the team that endured a heavy 6-1 defeat in Serbia five years ago.

Serbia v Wales

2018 FIFA World Cup - European Qualifiers 

  • Stadion Rajko Mitić, Belgrade
  • Sunday, 11 June, KO 19:45
  • Live coverage: Sky Sports, S4C, BBC Radio Wales/Cymru
  • Follow updates on FA Wales Twitter & Facebook

Wales now prepare to go head to head with Serbia once more, as the two teams battle it out in Belgrade on Sunday with World Cup qualifying points at stake.

Allen – who was just 22 at the time - started that night in Novi Sad and the Stoke City man was asked about that particular game ahead of this weekend’s meeting. 

“That game in Novi Sad scarred me,” he said. “It was my worst night in a Welsh shirt, but I think the great thing about going back out there and having another chance is that we can see how far we’ve come.

“That’s the positive and I think we can draw on that for this game. But also as players you can’t help but carry that feeling of wanting to set the record straight.

“Some of the lads are still in the squad, but I think we’re a million miles away from the team that turned out that night.”

Another player who was present in Novi Sad was Sam Vokes, with the striker being an unused substitute as Wales fell to their heaviest defeat since 1996.

But the Burnley frontman returns to Serbia in far greater circumstances, with Sunday’s game possibly marking his 50th game in a Wales shirt.

“It would be great to get my 50th cap,” said Vokes, whose first appearance in a Wales shirt came against Iceland in 2008. “I remember my debut very well - it's been a fantastic journey with some dark days and some fantastic days.

“There's been a core group of players and that's important. It's going to be a tough game for us but there's plenty of lads that have been in this position before. 

“We've worked a lot on and off the pitch to make sure we're well-drilled. Anyone is ready to step in and do a job for us. It's a massive game for us and one the lads are up for.

“It's time for us to stand up and get those points on the board. We know what Serbia are about, we came away disappointed with the draw (in November) and that's something we will be remembering on Sunday.”

JUNIOR JOURNAL: Kayleigh goes behind the scenes ahead of #SRBWAL
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Meanwhile, Sunday’s game will mark a year to the day since Wales beat Slovakia in Bordeaux to kick off what was a historic summer in EURO 2016.

Goals from Gareth Bale and Hal Robson-Kanu saw Chris Coleman’s side begin their first appearance at a tournament for 58 years with a victory. 

And it was also memorable afternoon for goalkeeper Danny Ward, who was thrust into the starting line-up following an injury to Wayne Hennessey. 

“I was looking forward to the game (against Slovakia),” he said. “It was only the day before the game that I was told Wayne was struggling, so I didn't have too much time to think about it. It was emotional and a big sense of relief at the final whistle.

“Now we are here we just have to concentrate on Sunday. I think we've been unfortunate in a few of the games, a matter of inches. Some people may say we've taken our foot off the gas, but that's not the case.”