Joe Allen believes he can earn himself a week to remember by helping Wales improve their Euro 2020 hopes just days after starting a repair job at Stoke City.
The Wales midfielder will be in Slovakia on Thursday as his country battle to revive a qualification campaign that was seriously undermined by back-to-back defeats to Croatia and Hungary.
A vital win at home to Azerbaijan steadied the ship, but now come more testing assignments – with little margin for error – away to the Slovaks and then at home to the Croatians on Sunday night.
At least Allen will go into the matches in a positive frame of mind after the club captain led Stoke to a vital 2-1 victory at Swansea City at the weekend.
“It was great to get that win today and now there are two big games on the international scene to look forward to,” said Allen.
“We’ll meet up this week and get back to business. Let’s hope those games can go as well as the club game has.”
Allen’s fellow Welshman, Stoke manager Nathan Jones, looked as if he was a drowning man until his ship finally came in at Swansea with a first victory of the season.
It was not enough to lift skipper Allen and his team from the bottom of the Championship, but it might just be enough to prolong the job prospects of Jones.
In the days leading up to his trip back to Wales, Jones sounded as if even he wouldn’t put money on his survival, but Allen insists the players have never lost faith.
“A lot has been said so far this season, for obvious reasons, but that performance said all you need to know about what we’re willing to give for the manager and his staff,” added Allen.
“There is nobody who deserves it more than them. But, having said that, we’re conscious it’s only one win.
“Hopefully, it can be a catalyst to kick-start our season. We have a lot of ground to make up and we need to get a lot more points on the board.”
Jones could still be sacked, of course, if Stoke’s owners have schemed and planned all along to use the international break to make a change.
The Potters remain bottom of the table and if Swansea had not defended so carelessly in the dying moments, then Jones’ search for a first win since April 6 would still be ongoing.
But the determination Stoke showed to go for the win, and their frequent periods of domination over a team who led the Championship, suggested Allen’s words of support for Jones are more than just the official script.
“At times, we have been scratching our heads but he’s stuck at it, come in ever day ready to work, and given everything.
“He set us up to get that win and it has finally happened. Let’s hope it’s the first of many.
“Everyone can understand the frustration and disappointment he felt because it’s almost impossible to put your finger on exactly what’s gone wrong for us this season.”
For Swansea, the defeat was confirmation that their breezy early season momentum at home has run its course, even though they have still been digging out results on the road.
The Swans have taken just one point from their last three games at the Liberty Stadium and they were unable to respond when their old boy Sam Clucas levelled after Andre Ayew’s red herring goal in the opening minute.
Swans skipper Mike van der Hoorn admitted: “That was the worst performance this season.
“That is not us – to be fair, they did alright, locking us in, but we should show more courage and play through them, especially at 1-0.
“I think we might need the break because the legs weren’t there. It isn’t the biggest loss ever but the performance wasn’t good.”