Poignant game for Norwich City’s Welsh pair Andrew Crofts and Steve Morison
Norwich City midfielder Andrew Crofts admits it will be an 'emotional occasion' when he links up with the Wales squad next week for the first time since Gary Speed's tragic death.
Crofts and fellow City striker Steve Morison were yesterday named in new boss Chris Coleman's squad for the Cardiff friendly against Costa Rica on February 29 that will pay tribute to their former international manager.
Speed's death in November rocked the whole football world and Crofts insists the country's senior stars are determined to honour his memory at Cardiff's City Stadium.
'It will be an emotional game but one everyone is looking forward to. It's going to be a strange one, meeting up at first without Gary Speed there,' he said. 'I think that (Costa Rica) was his first cap as a player so for those reasons it will be very emotional and everyone's thoughts will be with him, as they have been for a while.
'I'll look forward to meeting up with the boys and the new manager has just taken over so it will be nice to see him. Chris Coleman rang me up a little while ago and had a chat with me. He seemed like a really nice man. He has proved before that he's a good manager and could be the ideal replacement. No one wanted that to happen, but I'm looking forward to linking up with him.'
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Crofts aims to head for international duty on the back of a positive Premier League showing against champions Manchester United at Carrow Road.
The midfielder knows the scale of the task as City aim to carry on where they left off against Swansea prior to their weekend Leicester FA Cup exit.
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'At the moment 35 points is a good tally but we want to build on that,' he said. 'Come the end of the season, the most important thing is being in this division again. We've given ourselves a good chance but there's a big three months coming up.
'Swansea was a real big three points. Any three points in this league are big, but to go 1-0 down at Swansea against the run of play and come back and win, not many teams go there and do that. It's a massive thing for the team and the boys as well.'
Crofts was an unused substitute against the Foxes, but insists City's squad strength is the key to their Premier League top 10 place.
'It's good for the manager to have and that's a big factor in why we're eighth in the league at the moment,' he said. 'Being in the Premier League, you have to have a really strong squad and competition for places. That's why we've been so successful so far. We've got a big three months left and we're going to give it everything we've got.'
City team-mate Russell Martin was recalled to the Scotland squad for next week's friendly against Slovenia in Koper on Wednesday, February 29. Martin has one senior cup in his career, but was forced to pull out of friendly in Cyprus earlier this season through injury.