Carl Excited About New Welsh Era

Hammers midfielder Carl Fletcher is in line to be awarded his seventh Welsh cap at the weekend and his performance will be under more scrutiny than usual.

Since the retirement of Robbie Savage, Fletcher and his midfield partner Carl Robinson will have the onus to replace the 'heartbeat' of the Welsh side firmly on their shoulders.

But Carl sees the new John Toshack ere as the perfect time to stamp his authority on the Welsh squad.

"It's a very exciting time to be involved. New era's can happen overnight or they can take a bit of time. With Welsh rugby it took a couple of years for everything to gel, but now we have the chance to start it overnight against Austria.

"It could take us on to bigger and better things, that's what we're looking to do and we'll all be pushing in the right direction for that."

Wales have not won a competitive international for two years and they have recently fallen six places to 71st in the FIFA rankings and Fletcher realises that to stop the slump, younger players will have to prove they are up to the task of International football.

"Robbie Savage has been a quality player for Wales over the last five years and every fan will agree that he has been the heartbeat of the side.

"But his retirement, along with those of Gary Speed, Andy Melville and Mark Pembridge, has given new and younger players the chance to shine. The opportunity is there.

"I wore Robbie's No7 shirt in the friendly against Hungary last month [Toshack's first in charge] but its only a number. I just go out there and try my best. I just want to repay the manager."

After the games against Austria this week, it's back to league action for Fletcher with two tough away games against Wigan and Burnley, but Fletcher is confident of reaching a play-off spot.

"We just have to go out there and show we're good enough to get promoted. We owe the fans that for sticking by us. Similarly, the pressure will be on for Wales, but if you can't enjoy playing in front of 60,000 at the Millenium Stadium you are in the wrong business."