Chris Coleman has insisted that even a half-baked Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale can help Wales turn up the heat on the Republic of Ireland on Friday.
The Wales boss has admitted his team’s World Cup qualification campaign has failed to rise as injuries have meant the pair have only played together in one match so far.
Ramsey has been a recent target for some Arsenal fans in an increasingly fractious season for the Gunners – his inability to hit the heights of his brilliant Euro 2016 finals form, adding to the general air of discontent at the club and during the current rocky period for manager Arsene Wenger.
But ahead of Wales’ must-win clash in Dublin, Coleman said: “Even when Aaron is not at his very best, he still has the capacity to do something special – especially the way he marries up with Gareth Bale.
“Aaron and Gareth are always a threat. I’ve been to see Rambo this month and he was in a good frame of mind. He’s had minutes on the pitch since then so I’m not worried.
“We have only had Aaron for one game in the campaign so far and if you took him out of any team he would be missed.
“The Republic are top, we’re in their back yard and we will be the underdogs. But we have proven to be pretty good when challenged.”
When Ramsey has been absent, Coleman has turned to the likes of Andy King and Dave Edwards to fill the void. But there is little doubt that Ramsey will start against the Republic, despite his recent patchy form, and that others revert to the bench.
Coleman added: “The lads who come in always do a great job for us. Sometimes they play and sometimes they don’t, but their attitude has always been fantastic.
“In these first four games we’ve only had Aaron in one of them. That’s tough for us, and we’ve only had Joe Allen for two and a bit as well.
“We’re looking forward to having Rambo back. He’s had game time at Arsenal and he’s feeling good.”
The Republic have had to contend with a catalogue of injuries ahead of the crunch Group D qualifier at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
Striker Daryl Murphy has become the latest Republic casualty in joining injured quartet Shane Duffy, Ciaran Clark, Wes Hoolahan and Harry Arter as well as the suspended Robbie Brady on the sidelines.
Wales lost in-form Ipswich frontman Tom Lawrence to a hip injury on Monday, with his place taken by Liverpool youngster Harry Wilson.
But every member of Coleman’s 23-man squad trained on Tuesday morning, including Liverpool’s rising star Ben Woodburn.
The 17-year-old striker joined the likes of Bale and Ramsey at their Vale of Glamorgan base for the first time, and third-placed Wales are in good health as they attempt to close the four-point gap on the group leaders.
“We are a very good team when we’re at our best and at our strongest,” Coleman added.
“We need these players on the pitch consistently and we’re in pretty good condition.
“The squad might have looked different two or three months ago.
“But we’ve got players back, and I’ve picked those who have been on the front foot and are most ready for this challenge.”