- Associated Press - Friday, June 10, 2016

BORDEAUX, France (AP) - Joe Ledley is ready to play for Wales in its opening Euro 2016 match against Slovakia on Saturday, capping a remarkable recovery after the midfielder broke his leg just over a month ago.

Wales coach Chris Coleman paid tribute on Friday to Ledley’s strength of character to come back from the injury he picked up while playing for Crystal Palace against Stoke on May 7.

“To get to where he is, he’s done an unbelievable job, fantastic,” Coleman told a news conference ahead of the Group B match in Bordeaux. “He’s always been in my consideration. I think he’s one of those players who is important not just on the pitch but off the pitch, it’s his character… So he’s always been in my consideration.

“He’s been impressive in training. Of course, I’m not going to give anything away, but he’s available to play some part tomorrow - whether that’s a start, or to come on as a substitute.”

Saturday’s match will be Wales’ first in a major tournament since 1958, and Coleman wants his side to show that it will not just be making up the numbers at Euro 2016.

“Walking out will be something special,” he said. “But we’ve got to remember that we’re not just here to have smile and a laugh and a joke, we’re here to perform … I just want to see them do what they’re capable of doing and that will be fantastic.”

The Welsh fans have been flooding into Bordeaux and Coleman, who turned 46 on Friday, has urged his players to give their supporters something to cheer.

“We’re delighted to be here,” he said. “We thought it would never happen but we’re here, something we’ve dreamed about for a long, long time … I understand we’ve got 25 or 30,000 Welsh supporters here to back us and to get behind us which is incredible really. We want to do them proud.” Coleman said his team isn’t just made up of “consistent” and “hard-working” players, but also has a “splash of brilliance in there.”

That brilliance is mainly encapsulated in star man Gareth Bale.

Slovakia coach Jan Kozak said he is a fan of the Wales forward as a supporter of Real Madrid - the team with which Bale recently won a second Champions League title.

“He’s a top player,” Kozak said. “And not just for Wales, he’s one of the best in the world.

“I won’t go into detail about how we’ll deal with him. We respect him, but Wales is not just about Bale, they have other players who play with top English teams. Football is a team game. Without support from your team-mates you can’t really be a great threat to your opponents.”

England and Russia meet in Saturday’s other Group B match.



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