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Chris Coleman rules out Crystal Palace option

Last Updated May 25 2017, 12:49Football

Chris Coleman has expressed determination to lead Wales to the 2018 World Cup after dismissing talk of him becoming Crystal Palace's next manager.

Sam Allardyce's shock departure as Palace boss on Tuesday inevitably led to Coleman being linked once again with his former club.

Wales manager Coleman made 190 appearances for the Eagles between 1991 and 1995 and has been linked with Palace in the past when the manager's job has become vacant.

"I'd love to go back to the Palace," Coleman said, jokingly referring to receiving his OBE at Buckingham Palace last week.

"I had a good time at the Palace. But I'm sure Prince Charles is not ready for me to go back just yet!"

Coleman clearly knew being asked about the Eagles vacancy was coming as he named a 26-man training squad ahead of the crunch World Cup qualifier in Serbia on June 11.

Wales - minus the suspended Gareth Bale - will head to the Vale do Lobo resort in Portugal next week before the squad is trimmed to 23 for the Belgrade clash.

And Coleman, who pledged this would be his final campaign after leading Wales to the semi-finals of Euro 2016 last summer, says his focus is on reaching next summer's World Cup finals in Russia.

"All I'm thinking about is Serbia. I don't think past that, I can't afford to," Coleman said.

"All I care about is Wales. I cannot go into a game of football thinking 'if we lose' because I've never thought like that.

"It's about making sure we perform like we have been doing.

"Points-wise it's not unbridgeable, performance-wise we're not far off where we need to be - whether we've got Gareth or not.

"I can't control what's said about me outside of Wales, I only care about Wales and preparing properly.

"I'm looking forward to this game, that's where my mind and my thinking is."

Coleman reiterated that he would sit down with his Football Association of Wales employers if his team were eliminated in the race for World Cup qualification.

Wales are four points behind Serbia and the Republic of Ireland at the halfway stage, but a runner-up spot will be good enough for them to contest a November play-off.

"If we couldn't (qualify) there's a conversation to be had," Coleman said.

"But until that happens... maybe I'm the only man in Wales who thinks like I do because I'm confident we will qualify.

"I know it's a huge task for us, but I've still got the same excitement to do the job, the same belief in the players and the team.

"We're four points behind and we haven't got our best player (Bale) in Serbia.

"People will say, 'What can happen here?'. I tell you what can happen, we can go there and get a result.

"We've done it in the past, so why can't we do it again?"

Real Madrid forward Bale will be absent in Belgrade as he serves a one-match ban.

Neil Taylor is also suspended for the red-card challenge in March which left Republic of Ireland skipper Seamus Coleman with a double leg fracture, while the injured James Collins and Andy King are also missing.

Everton defender Gethin Jones, who is dual-qualified as he is able to play for Australia, is one of seven uncapped players selected, with Exeter teenager Ethan Ampadu, Bristol Rovers centre-half Tom Lockyer and Barnsley forward Marley Watkins are also included.

Liverpool pair Ben Woodburn and Harry Wilson are also among the party.

"It's a good challenge for us being without Gareth," Coleman said. "Can we handle it?

"I'm confident that people are prepared to step up on the night without Gareth."

Wales squad: 

Hennessey (Crystal Palace), Ward (Huddersfield), Fon Williams (Inverness), Davies (Tottenham), Chester (Aston Villa), John (Cardiff), Walsh (MK Dons), Gunter (Reading), Richards (Cardiff), Williams (Everton), Lockyer (Bristol Rovers), Jones (Everton), Ampadu (Exeter), Allen (Stoke), Edwards (Wolves), Lawrence (Leicester), Huws (Cardiff), Evans (Wolves), Ledley (Crystal Palace), Ramsey (Arsenal), Watkins (Barnsley), Robson-Kanu (West Brom), Bradshaw (Barnsley), Vokes (Burnley), Wilson (Liverpool), Woodburn (Liverpool).

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