Ricketts switched on to Hazard warning
SAM Ricketts is hoping a spell with the Welsh dragons can breathe some fire into his own performances for Wanderers .
After a frustrating start to the Championship season, the Reebok full-back heads to Parc y Scarlets on Friday night hoping to fend off a highly-fancied Belgium side at the start of Wales’ World Cup qualifying campaign.
Things won’t get much easier for the 30-year-old, who should start at left-back after Swansea City’s Neil Taylor was sidelined with a fractured ankle, as he is likely to be handed the task of marking Chelsea’s £32million man Eden Hazard.
Vincent Kompany, Marouane Fellaini and Axel Witsel are also part of a strong Belgium squad heading his way. Nevertheless, Ricketts is confident both he and Chris Coleman’s side can earn a much needed morale boost.
“Don’t get me wrong, they are a good side – but so are we when we play well,” he said. “They’ve got some fantastic young players who have gone for a lot of money this summer.
“It speaks for all you need to know about their quality, they’ve got some dominant centre-halves as well, and it’ll be a good test for us, which we are relishing.
“You need to get a head of steam and start well. That gives the players confidence, the fans confidence and everyone buoyancy.”
Ricketts was one of Wanderers’ most consistent performers last season, despite their relegation from the Premier League.
But like so many of his team-mates, his displays so far this term have failed to get up to scratch.
Speaking in the build-up to the Belgium game, the former Hull City man admitted the Achilles injury that kept him out of action for nearly nine months – and the first half of last season – had more of an effect on his body than many had realised at the time.
“I came back for the second half of the season and, to be honest, I was wiped out by the end,” he said.
“I just played two practice games before coming back in and playing 25 games, so it was a big ask.
“I was exhausted but I’ve worked hard and got back ready and fit for what’s going to be a tough year.”