John Toshack left Wales post too early, says Dean Saunders

Dean Saunders and John Toshack
Saunders combined his work at Wrexham with a role as Toshack’s assistant

Former assistant Dean Saunders believes John Toshack left his job as Wales manager too soon.

Toshack resigned as national team boss in September 2010 after nearly six years in charge.

His policy of giving young players experience is now benefiting successor Gary Speed, according to Saunders

"He [Toshack] left that job a bit early for me. I think we were in a good position when John left," said Saunders.

"I think his record's really good wherever he's been, not just for Wales.

"But Gary's now taken it on and I'm sure the experience [the young players] had under Tosh is going to stand them in great stead."

Speed was appointed Toshack's successor in December 2010 and has led Wales to three wins in their last four matches.

Wales rose 45 places to 45th in the most recent Fifa rankings and face Norway at Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday.

Speed's original Welsh squad for the Norway friendly included 17 players who were handed their senior debuts by Toshack.

The former Real Madrid coach's period as Welsh manager was most notable for a string of high-profile international retirees.

Ryan Giggs, Robbie Savage and Simon Davies were among the players to call time on their Wales careers during his reign.

And Saunders, Wales assistant boss between 2007 and 2010, says the retirements forced Toshack to give youngsters their chance.

"It made a bit more difficult for us because he was having to play more young players than he wanted to and playing them in big games," said the former Aston Villa and Liverpool striker.

"There's a lot of them players who have got 40 caps now and still only in their early 20s.

"They're going to go into games now knowing what it's like to be in Bulgaria away. You can only do that by playing.

"But somebody will benefit from it [and] hopefully it's Gary.

"He's gone through a bit of a rough patch but he's got some results and he'll feel better about that now.

"They've got some good results now which was only a matter of time really. They've got some really good players.

"Hopefully the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale stay fit, he [Speed] can get the winning formula and get the players to come and play.

"And then the next time around we can qualify. We've got a good chance."

Toshack is now coach of Macedonia, one of Wales' opponents in the World Cup qualifying campaign which begins in September 2012.

Wales squad: Wayne Hennessey (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Lewis Price (Crystal Palace), Darcy Blake (Cardiff City), Lewin Nyatanga (Bristol City), Chris Gunter (Nottingham Forest), Adam Matthews (Celtic), Neil Taylor (Swansea City), Ashley Williams (Swansea City), Joe Allen (Swansea City), Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur), Jack Collison (West Ham United), Andrew Crofts (Norwich City), David Edwards (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Andy King (Leicester City), Joe Ledley (Celtic), Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal, capt), Hal Robson-Kanu (Reading), Craig Bellamy (Liverpool), Simon Church (Reading), Robert Earnshaw (Cardiff City), Steve Morison (Norwich City), Sam Vokes (Wolverhampton Wanderers).

Stand-by: Neal Eardley (Blackpool), Craig Morgan (Preston North End), Ashley Richards (Swansea City), Rhoys Wiggins (Charlton Athletic), David Cotterill (Swansea City), Andy Dorman (Crystal Palace), Brian Stock (Doncaster Rovers), Jonathan Williams (Crystal Palace), Jermaine Easter (Crystal Palace), Ched Evans (Sheffield United).

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