Gabbidon and old pal Collins battle for start
8:02am Thursday 5th September 2013 in Sport
GWENT duo Danny Gabbidon and James Collins are going head-to-head in a battle to represent their country this week.
Cwmbran’s Gabbidon, back in the Premier League with Crystal Palace and Newport’s Collins, still at West Ham United, will tussle for the right to line-up alongside Ashley Williams in Macedonia on Friday night.
Wales then face Serbia next Tuesday at the Cardiff City stadium with only one of the long-time good friends and former teammates set to partner the Wales skipper.
The 33-year-old Gabbidon has been recalled to the national team by manager Chris Coleman since the summer, having not played a competitive international match since the Carling Nations Cup back in May 2011.
Gabbidon is happy to be back in contention and hopeful that the Premier League spotlight – he was excellent against Spurs and scored in Palace’s victory over Sunderland – will keep him in the international shake-up
“The last 18 months have been a bit up and down with my football,” he said. “My season at QPR, I played the first half but not the second half, and then last season I came here late. So that’s affected my international football really.
“It’s nice to have played a few games last season and to be selected back in the squad feels good.
“I’ve always thought to myself ‘if I’m fit and playing regularly in my club team, I’ve got a chance of being selected for the national team.’ Playing a few games at the end of last season has obviously helped.
“If you’re playing and doing well, you hope to be involved. So maybe it was a bit of a surprise (to be recalled this summer), but it’s a nice feeling to be back involved. Towards the last few games, especially in the play-offs, I felt like I was playing at the level I expect myself to be playing at. Maybe that’s helped with my selection in the squad.
“Hopefully the manager still thinks I have something to offer, whether that’s playing or on the bench. It will be nice to meet the lads again and see some faces I haven’t seen for a while.”
Gabbidon admitted that he had been getting stick from some of his other Palace teammates, joking that they thought he retired from the international game.
“I’ve had a few comments,” he said. “I did actually retire when (John) Toshack was in charge, but they were different circumstances then.
“Gary Speed took over and he asked me to come back, so I said ‘yes.’ Obviously then for 18 months I’ve been in and out of my club teams and various things have happened so I didn’t play that much.
“So maybe people thought I’d retired again I don’t know! But I’m still here, I’m still available for selection and it’s nice to get the call.”
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