Ukraine v Wales: Places up for grabs as Davies looks set to return


Chris Coleman is expected to rotate his squad as Wales' Euro 2016 casting call travels to Ukraine on Monday.

The absence of key players such as Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Hal Robson-Kanu has afforded Coleman the opportunity to take a look at some of his fringe players, with the deadline for nailing down his 23-man travelling party closing in.

The likes of George Williams and goalscorer Simon Church staked their claims for selection in Thursday's 1-1 home draw against Northern Ireland, while Danny Ward - expected to be included as part of a settled trio of goalkeepers - made his debut as a half-time replacement for first-choice Wayne Hennessey.

Jazz Richards, Shaun MacDonald and Emyr Huws were among the players who did not to get a chance from the bench and will feel they have a shot at making the squad, so will be eager to grasp their opportunity if it comes in Kiev.

Ben Davies is expected to recover from a head injury in time for the game, which could prompt Coleman to revert to a more familiar 3-5-2 formation should Swansea City left-back Neil Taylor also return to fitness following a dead leg, having trialled a 4-4-2 set-up in Cardiff.

Although Davies is as good as guaranteed his place on the plane, he knows Coleman will be looking to whittle down his options in the final fixture before he names his squad.

"These games are very important," Tottenham defender Davies is quoted as saying by BBC Sport. "There's a lot of places in the squad up for grabs.

"I think some boys staked a very good claim [against Northern Ireland]. There were some good performances from the boys that came on and these are games where you have to show what you can do.

"Ukraine is a good test for us. They're a top team and we're aware of what they can bring to the game."

For Wales, the match is seen as ideal preparation for their clash with Russia in Group B, which also contains England and Slovakia, while Ukraine coach Mykhaylo Fomenko will be on the lookout for tips on tackling Northern Ireland from opposite number Coleman.

Ukraine will view their encounter with Michael O'Neill's men in France as must-win as they bid to make it out of a group that also sees them go up against neighbours Poland and world champions Germany.

Taras Stepanenko scored the only goal as Ukraine overcame Cyprus in their friendly on Thursday and they will be hoping to break the stalemate that exists in their head-to-head record with Wales.

The two previous meetings - both in qualifying for the 2002 World Cup - ended in a 1-1 draw.