Wales are better prepared for 'derby' contests after England heartbreak says manager Chris Coleman

Ireland team

Wales manager Chris Coleman has a chat with his coaching staff during a training session yesterday ahead of tonight's crucial World Cup qualifier with Republic of Ireland in Dublin Picture: PA

Chris Coleman believes Wales are better suited to handling the pressure of a World Cup 'derby' in Dublin after the Euro 2016 defeat to England which drove him to drink.

Wales' amazing journey in France last summer took them all the way to the semi-finals.

But the memories of losing to England at the group stage continue to linger in Welsh minds.

And, ahead of Friday's crunch World Cup qualifier against the Republic of Ireland, Coleman has revealed that he broke Wales' self-enforced booze ban after Daniel Sturridge's injury-time winner in Lens.

"It was a dry camp, we were together seven weeks. No alcohol. Staff or players," Coleman said.

"But I had a double whiskey by myself, a sneaky one, out on the balcony after that England game.

"As a manager you have to look at yourself and I thought I was preaching all the time, 'Don't get sucked into this game with England. It is one of three'.

"So I thought were my messages the wrong... 'too much fight, make sure we stand our ground'? I was devastated.

"Not because it was England, but we were at a tournament and we didn't show ourselves in the game."

Wales' problems against England were mirrored when they met Northern Ireland at the last 16 stage.

The Dragons went into another 'Battle of Britain' showdown as clear favourites to progress.

But they laboured for most of the Paris contest before Gareth McAuley turned Gareth Bale's late cross into his own net.

Coleman, however, feels Wales have learned from those experiences ahead of what has been billed as a 'derby' between Celtic cousins.

"When we played against England we went 1-0 up and then we wished our life away, rather than just enjoying those moments," Coleman said.

"But these games come and go, and I think you forget sometimes that you're in it to enjoy it.

"Whatever Ireland have got planned, whichever way they play, that's up to them.

"We mustn't get drawn into that and do what we're good at. We can't miss the game.

"We did that against England, and we were disappointed because it was a British derby."

This round of fixtures marks the halfway stage of World Cup qualifying, the point at which Coleman said before the tournament that he would assess his own position.

Coleman has already said he plans to leave the post he was appointed to in January 2012 at the end of this campaign.

The next games, both away to the Republic and second-placed Serbia in June, could determine whether Wales' ambition of reaching the 2018 finals in Russia is a realistic one.

"Until it's mathematically impossible I'll always say, 'We've got a chance,'" Coleman said.

"We've proved we can beat anybody. We can win three games on the bounce, because we've done it.

"So unless we can't finish top or second, if that happens, then I'll see how I feel and Wales will see how they feel.

If I see this through, it will be six and a half years. I think that is a long time as an international manager."

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