EURO 2016: Chris Coleman’s Wales ready to take the next step, insists midfielder Joe Allen

Joe Allen chats with Ashley Williams
Joe Allen chats with Ashley Williams
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Joe Allen has welcomed Wales’ Euro 2016 day of destiny by saying the squad are determined to have no regrets over the tournament.

In what has been a see-saw section, Wales play Russia in Toulouse on Monday at the same time as Group B leaders England meet Slovakia in St Etienne.

Win and Wales would top the group if England fail to beat Slovakia.

A draw should also be enough to see Wales into the last 16, while they could lose and still qualify as a best third-placed team if England beat Slovakia.

It promises to be a nervous night for everyone involved, and Liverpool midfielder Allen accepts that it could be a defining moment in the careers of the Wales players.

“You don’t want it to be the be all and end all in the sense that you take your foot off the pedal at any time in the future,” said Allen.

“You want to make sure that this is something that we get to experience again, but playing at this stage as a footballer is the highest level - and we certainly want to make sure that there are no regrets on our part.

“I think coming off the pitch no matter what happens, we’re confident we’ll do the business.

“We want to make sure that we throw absolutely everything at it.

“We’re confident that we can get ourselves into the knock-out rounds and, after that, who knows what could happen?”

While there will be pressure on Wales to reach the last 16, especially as they were within seconds of holding England in Lens, Allen feels the squad are capable of handling the situation.

After all, this is a group of players who have been through dark days together - from the death of their manager Gary Speed to losing a World Cup qualifier 6-1 to Serbia.

It was that defeat which questioned whether Wales’ so-called ‘Golden Generation’ could end over 50 years without qualifying for a major tournament.

“At the time you don’t see it that way,” said Allen.

“But disappointments certainly make you more resilient and hungry to go and get success.

“The Serbia game stands out for this group as one where we let ourselves and the country down.

“There were a lot of questions asked whether we would move forward from it, whether we would be the team to get us here (to a major tournament).

“I do think even in that darkest hour the belief in the camp was there, it has grown steadily as we’ve progressed but that does stand out.”

Allen says Wales will shut out what is happening in the England-Slovakia game as qualification is in their own hands.

And he promises a positive approach against Russian opponents who need to win to keep their own last-16 hopes alive.

“It’s a difficult one,” he said. “It’s one where people think if you set up just to cling on to that point it can often be the downfall of teams.

“That won’t be our approach, but it is one where we want to make sure we are more in control of how we go about our performance.

“Performing well is first and foremost what we want to do, because we know when the focus is on doing that then the results come with it.”