Chris Gunter & Hal Robson-Kanu
Could two Reading players be about to achieve something that Craig Bellamy, Ryan Giggs, Mark Hughes and Gary Speed all failed to do: qualify for a major international tournament with Wales?
A 3-0 victory in Haifa last night has left Welsh football fans starting to believe but with five games to still go few in the Principality will be starting to make holiday plans for France in summer 2016. The win was as commanding Welsh performance as there has ever been and was the first time in over seven years that Wales won away to a side in the top 50 FIFA ranking.
Both Royals players were asked to play roles they have rarely done for Reading. Chris Gunter lined up at right wing back, as Chris Coleman went with three central defenders, whilst Hal Robson-Kanu played up front with Real Madrid star Garath Bale playing a roaming role just behind him.
It was obvious to see on more than one occasion that the Reading duo were the only Wales players not playing in the Premier League or La Liga, but despite that they once again showed why they are important members of Coleman's squad. BBC Wales Sport's Dafydd Pritchard gave both Royals a seven out of 10 for their performances:
Chris Gunter - Defended calmly against the threat of Tal Ben Haim II on the Israeli left wing and was eager to go forward, even if his final ball was not always of the highest quality.
Hal Robson-Kanu - Held the ball up well and closed down tirelessly in a hard-working display, albeit with limited quality in the opponents' penalty area.
The Western Mail's Chris Wathan gave a similar appraisal of their contribution to a win which took Wales top of their group:
Chris Gunter (7 / 10) - Got in the right positions, choosing maturely when to push and when to cover, but [lacked] quality when he did find himself with the ball in the final third while gave too much space for [opponents'] cross.
Hal Robson-Kanu (6 / 10) - Asked to play the lone striker role and while showed good willing didn't do enough with the longer balls or truly trouble [Israel's] defence. Can be happy with [his] shift but [did not make] enough of an impact.
Both players were obviously delighted with the win and it can only be good for the Royals that they will return to Hogwood in high spirits. We can only hope that they found some way of discreetly injuring their Wales team mate Aaron Ramsey who they will be facing in our FA Cup semi-final next month.
Huge result tonight and one step closer to #France2016 Loved leading the line for my country, boys put a shift in, fans were magnificent!!!— Hal Robson-Kanu (@RobsonKanu) March 28, 2015
Whilst Gunter and Robson-Kanu's win has been grabbing all the headlines Garath McCleary's win with Jamacia has largely gone unnoticed. The former Nottingham Forest winger started for the Reggae Boyz in a 2-1 win over Venezuela.
Former Royals Adrian Mariappa and Jobi McAnuff also started in a morale boosting win for the Jamacians ahead of their first ever participation in the Copa America this summer. McCleary was substituted in injury time. The goals from the game can be seen below:
Young Reading central midfielder Aaron Kuhl made his England Under 19s debut yesterday. The academy graduate started in England's Euro U19 Championship Elite Round Qualifier 1-0 win over Azerbaijan.
The victory means England can seal their place in this summer's finals in Greece with a win over France on Tuesday. Kuhl went close with a free kick against opponents who were hard to break down. Kuhl's academy team mate Rob Dickie was an unused sub.
Another great win last night against a frustrating Azerbaijani team......Lads done well to break them down! On to France ⚽️⚽️— Aaron Kuhl (@Aaron_Kuhl) March 29, 2015
We'll have more international news in the coming days.