Collins aims to provide leadership

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James Collins takes over as Wales skipper for the first time on Wednesday determined to provide much-needed leadership to the squad's shell-shocked youngsters.

Aston Villa's £6million centre-back is delighted to get the armband as stand-in for the suspended Craig Bellamy against Liechtenstein, but his pleasure is muted somewhat with Wales facing a crisis of confidence after three successive defeats and a year of disappointing results.

Collins said: "Obviously I am delighted to be captain. It's a big honour and the highlight of my career. But there's a bit of senior leadership needed now, after what happened in Finland. Not that I can claim to have been above criticism."

The latest setback was Saturday's 2-1 World Cup qualifying defeat in Finland, and now Collins aims to guide Wales to a strong performance in their final Group Four match.

Collins added: "It was a bad day for me as well as the team. But now we want to finish off this group strongly and look forward to the next qualifying campaign.

"It is a big game for us, we need a win. We have got to feel under pressure now because everyone was bitterly disappointed with the way we played and the result.

"We must put things right that were not good on Saturday when we lost in Helsinki."

The former Cardiff City defender said: "Losing here is unthinkable. If we lose we would expect to be flying home to some flak.

"We must come to places like this and win if you ever want to be achieving anything in qualifying groups.

"Our best performances have been when we have played really well in away games against the big teams, even if we did not win them. But then we find ourselves not performing against lesser teams."

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Craig Bellamy
Premier League
Cardiff City
James Collins
Aston Villa

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