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FOOTBALL: TOSH: IT'S MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY; WORLD CUP QUALIFIER: GRP 6 WALES v AUSTRIA New boss warns his players to tow the line.

Byline: Martin ROGERS

JOHN TOSHACK has promised to drastically overhaul Welsh football and warned his players: "They had better support me, for their own sakes."

Toshack makes no apologies for ushering in change following the reign of his predecessor Mark Hughes, which left the side without a competitive win for two years.

Despite the loyalty Hughes commanded from his players, Toshack is adamant anyone refusing to accept his methods will not be welcome.

Robbie Savage was last week axed from the squad to face Austria at the Millennium Stadium tomorrow, after questioning the manager's authority.

Toshack said: "There are things about the team and the set-up that are going to change.

"Maybe it takes time to adapt but the players do not have a choice - that is how it is going to be. Are the players behind me now Savage has gone? I hope and expect so, for their own sakes.

"All sorts of things go through your mind before a big game like this. I admit, I'm a bit nervous about it. But I am not shaking. We'll give it everything."

Toshack has been handed the task of resurrecting Welsh fortunes following a drastic slump that took the shine off a promising start to the Euro 2004 qualifying campaign.

Hopes of reaching the World Cup finals in Germany have been effectively crushed after a dismal opening to the group.

Even if Toshack can start with a bang in his first two competitive fixtures - Wales take on Austria again in Vienna on Wednesday - qualification would still be an extreme long shot. Toshack added: "You cannot guarantee a win but that is what we will be going for, no question about it.

"I want to see a good attitude and a good performance, but I also want us to win. I will not be thinking about sending the players out to get beaten - they must try to win."

Ryan Giggs will captain the team and win his 50th cap for Wales and Toshack will urge the Manchester United winger to set an example for his less experienced colleagues.

Along with John Hartson, Craig Bellamy and Simon Davies, Giggs forms part of the quality core of the team and its main attacking thrust.

"I have managed at some big clubs in my time but it has not been often that I have had a set of players under me of such quality," added Toshack.

"And, of course, it is important for them to play well and set an example for the others.

"It has been difficult for Ryan in international football sometimes. It can be hard when you are at the very top with your club, but not with your country and trying to get the same consistency.

"But I know Ryan is committed to Wales and I had no hesitation making him captain.

"We'd love for him to be captain for the long-term future."

The collective bid to revive spirits promises to be as much a voyage of discovery for Toshack as for any of his players.

Toshack has managed top continental sides Real Madrid, Sporting Lisbon and St Etienne. But apart from one brief spell as Wales' boss in the early 1990s, international football provides him with a whole new challenge.

And with spirits high in the principality after Wales' Six Nations rugby triumph, a bumper crowd is expected at the Millennium Stadium.

CAPTION(S):

POINTERS: Toshack with Sam Ricketts, Giggs and new No.2 Roy Evans; COULDN'T FACE IT: Savage quit Wales
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 25, 2005
Words:583
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