Ginge set to start in Euros semi-final

  • James Collins is set to start when Wales face Portugal on Wednesday
  • The sides are playing for a place in the UEFA Euro 2016 final
  • Defender Collins could replace the suspended Ben Davies in the Dragons’ starting XI
 Hammers defender James Collins is set to start his first European Championship finals match on Wednesday when his Wales side take on Portugal in the UEFA Euro 2016 semi-finals.
So far, the centre-back has only played four minutes of the Dragons’ incredible campaign in France but with fellow defender Ben Davies suspended, the 32-year-old looks likely to be the man to fill his shoes in Wales’ five-man defence.
Tottenham Hotspur’s Davies picked up his second yellow card of the tournament in the side’s 3-1 victory over Belgium in the quarter-finals, and it could give ‘Ginge’ the opportunity to play his part in the biggest match in the country’s history.
Collins made an appearance from the substitutes’ bench in the sublime win in Lille on Friday, replacing Aaron Ramsey – who is also suspended on Wednesday – in the 90th minute.
He had previously acted as cover in Wales’ first four matches, which included wins against Slovakia, Russia and Northern Ireland.
Collins could, of course, come up against global superstar and Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo should he be selected, but Wales manager Chris Coleman backed the defender to cope with the challenge.
He said: “If it is the big man [Collins] on Wendesday, I won’t have a worry. He is older than most of our boys, he has been there and seen it. He has that experience and is a bit different.
“You need something in there that’s a little bit different and he is that. The guys who haven’t been playing have been different class and Ginge is probably the biggest voice amongst them all.
“Professional players are different to my day but Ginge is the closest to my era that I have seen in the modern day player.”
Goals from skipper Ashley Williams, Hal Robson-Kanu and Sam Vokes stunned Marc Wilmots’ Belgians after they had themselves been mightily impressive in their 4-0 round-of-16 victory over Hungary.
Despite their suspensions, Wales’ will be confident heading into the Portugal clash given their previous scalps, and there is real belief that they could progress to face either hosts France or world champions Germany in the final on Sunday 10 July.
Collins’ team will first focus on the present though – the tie against Portugal on Wednesday 6 July which kicks-off at 8pm UK time in Lyon.