STEVE Bruce will relax and enjoy England’s game against Wales this weekend as he takes a break from the pressures of Premier League football.
But he has warned that Fabio Capello’s men cannot afford to do the same in the Euro 2012 qualifier – despite playing a team more than 100 places below them in the Fifa world rankings and stripped of dangerman Gareth Bale.
England can leapfrog Montenegro and rise to the top of Group G if they beat Gary Speed’s side in Cardiff, but the Welsh are desperate get their first points on the board and are longing for a morale-boosting win over their old rivals.
The Millennium Stadium is sold out as the two neighbours prepare for their 100th head-to-head meeting and their first since England did the double over Wales in the qualifying campaign for the 2006 World Cup.
Wales had been in bullish mood in the build-up, but were rocked yesterday when Spurs’ Gareth Bale – currently regarded as one of the best players in the world – withdrew from the squad with a hamstring problem.
But Bruce says Speed can still call on some quality players – including the likes of former Newcastle man Craig Bellamy, Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey and ex-Sunderland favourite Danny Collins – which mean Fabio Capello’s England will have to be on form.
“I’m English and fiercely proud of it, so I hope we can go there and give Wales a good hiding, I really do!” said Bruce.
“Will that happen? I hope so, but it will be difficult.
“I’ll be watching the game somewhere on Saturday and, like every Englishman, I will be hoping we can turn them over.
“They are at home and the one thing you can’t deny is that Wales have got some decent individual players now in their squad.
“I hope England will have too much for them – on paper, they certainly look as if they have – but I don’t think we can take anything for granted.
“Games aren’t won on notepads.
“It will be a difficult game and the Welsh will really be up for the occasion because it’s England, so we will have to be at our best.”
Wales are bottom of Group G, having lost all three of their qualifiers and scoring just a single goal so far.
However, this will be Speed’s first competitive game in charge as previous defeats came under his predecessor as manager John Toshack and caretaker-boss Brian Flynn.
England go into the game in second place in the group, with seven points from three games. They are three points behind Montenegro, but have a game in hand and better goal difference.