Wales can match Northern Ireland in physical battle - Ashley Williams

By Dafydd PritchardBBC Wales Sport in Paris
Captain Ashley Williams promises Wales will match the physical approach of Northern Ireland in their Euro 2016 match.
Wales v Northern Ireland
Venue: Parc des Princes, Paris Date: 25 June Kick-off: 17:00 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC TV One, S4C, BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, the BBC Sport website and app

Captain Ashley Williams is confident Wales can match Northern Ireland physically when they meet in the second round of Euro 2016.

Manager Chris Coleman has highlighted Northern Ireland's threat from set-pieces, an area in which Wales have been vulnerable.

But Williams thinks Wales have the brawn to match the style with which they brushed past Russia on Monday.

"One thing we can do is fight," he said.

"We've played very well in this tournament, especially the other night [against Russia] with the ball, but I think it's a given this Wales team is physical.

"It matches the work-rate of the opposition and fights. We know it will be a tough match against Northern Ireland and we'll more than match them."

Wales' comprehensive 3-0 victory over Russia saw them qualify for the knockout stages of a major tournament for only the second time in their history.

Wales players
Chris Coleman says Wales are ready for Northern Ireland after topping Group B

Their last appearance at an international competition came at the 1958 World Cup, when both Wales and Northern Ireland were beaten in the quarter-finals.

Coleman's side reached the second round at Euro 2016 as Group B winners, finishing ahead of England to set up their encounter with a Northern Ireland side who progressed as one of the best third-placed teams despite losing two of their three group games.

The last meeting between the sides was a 1-1 friendly draw at the Cardiff City Stadium in March but, as his Wales side were without the influential Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, Coleman does not think the game will have any bearing on Saturday's fixture in Paris.

"They're very strong and physical, well organised and dangerous from set-pieces," he said.

Highlights: Wales 1-1 N Ireland

"They've got a great spirit, so it will be a tough game for us.

"With Gareth, of course he's going to make a difference to any team, so's Aaron.

"We played well on the night [in March] but that counts for nothing tomorrow. It's all about the next one."

In or out of Europe?

Wales v NI
Wales and Northern Ireland drew 1-1 in their last meeting, at the Cardiff City Stadium

The match between Wales and Northern Ireland, a battle of two British sides, will come a day after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union.

Coleman was asked how Wales' players reacted to the news but said their minds were solely on the European Championship.

"People talk about being in or out of Europe but we're still in it and that's all we care about," he added.

"That's not our focus. We'll talk about that when we get back."

Manager Chris Coleman says Wales must guard against the emotion of a UK derby when they play Northern Ireland at Euro 2016.

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