Euro 2020: Hughes wants a quick start to Spark Wales into life
Mark Hughes insists Wales must get off to a flying start in their first Euro 2020 game against Switzerland.
Hughes, 57, was capped 72 times by the Dragons before going on to manage his country between 1999 and 2004.
And he believes a positive result on June 12 could help Wales channel the spirit of 2016, when Chris Coleman's men unexpectedly blazed their way to the semi-finals of the European Championship in France.
Sparky said: "The first game in any tournament is massive, I always think.
"If you get a positive result, it sets you up for the whole tournament. Momentum is a massive thing in tournament play. If you get a win the pressure is less in the following games.
"Switzerland isn’t an easy game first up — far from it — but the other two are arguably even harder, so it’s really important to get that start.
"We’ve got a lot more experience this time around, with good young players to supplement that, so I’m feeling optimistic and excited about our prospects."
Bale best out wide
If Rob Page’s men are to emerge from Group A, which also features Italy and Turkey, much will depend on the performances of talisman Gareth Bale.
And Hughes believes caretaker-manager Page would be best served by playing Bale, 31, in a wider role, while letting Cardiff targetman Kieffer Moore, 28, offer a physical presence through the middle.
He added: "I’d give him [Bale] the right-hand side because he has the ability to go both ways.
"Moore has done really well and he gives the team that focal point. Make no bones about it, in some games we’ll be under pressure and having someone like that helps in those situations.
"Gareth is one of the few world-class players we’ve got. He needs to be playing well and where he's comfortable."
Rising to the challenge
The draw has not been kind to Wales, reinforcing why Hughes has stressed the importance of a strong start.
Group favourites Italy currently boast a 25-game unbeaten run stretching back to September 2018, while dark horses Turkey have lost just three of their last 24 outings.
Wales are based in Baku for their opening two group games. After taking on Switzerland, they face Turkey on June 16 before a daunting trip to Rome to face Italy four days later.