By Tony Leighton
Leicester City and Wales midfielder Andy King is looking forward to the biggest game of his life as he prepares to face England at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium in Saturday's 2012 European Championships qualifier.
With no points from three games Wales are bottom of a qualifying group in which England lie second, three points behind leaders Montenegro but with a game in hand and with comfortably the best goal difference of the group's five nations.
So the Three Lions will be favourites on Saturday, but the Welsh dragon will not be cowed on home soil. "No one except ourselves is expecting anything," said King, "but we're feeling confident and we just have to take that on to the pitch.
"Everyone will be up for it and I think that will show in the performance. It's the biggest game of my career, a European qualifier against England - it's massive, and I'm really looking forward to it."
Wales were dealt a blow two days ahead of the big clash with the news that Tottenham Hotspur star Gareth Bale, who was seen as they key player in the home team's line-up, is set to miss the match due to a hamstring injury.
King remains defiant, however. "Losing Gareth is obviously a disappointment," said the Leicester captain, "but we've still got top players like Craig Bellamy and Aaron Ramsey, players who can turn it on against this level of opposition."
As they take on their international neighbours the spotlight will not only be on the Wales players but also on Manager Gary Speed, who could not have had a higher profile game for his first competitive outing in charge.
A fine winger for his national team in a long and distinguished playing career, Speed is still at the rookie stage when it comes to management. But he is taking it all in his stride and his demeanour is helping the players, says King.
"The Manager brings an element of calm," he said. "It also helps with him having being an international player until just recently. He knows how players will be feeling physically and mentally, and that is a big thing."
Another Manager who will be taking an interest in King's contribution to the Welsh cause will be the 22-year-old midfielder's club boss, Sven Goran Eriksson, who of course had five years in charge of the England team.
"He has asked a few times if we are going to win," said King, "but just the odd little joke. I am sure he will be hoping the best for me, and hopefully I can do Wales proud. It's going to be a massive ask - but we have every chance."
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