Edwards up for Wales challenge

The 25-year-old helped Wolves end an eight-match winless run with a

goal in their 3-1 victory over Wigan at the weekend, having

recently returned from seven months on the sidelines with a back

injury. His time out of the game has coincided with a Welsh revival

under Gary Speed, and with Aaron Ramsey having assumed the

captaincy and the likes of Joe Allen staking an impressive claim

for a starting role, competition for a midfield place is as fierce

as it has ever been during Edwards’ international career. With a

fully-fit squad Speed’s options include the likes of Ramsey, Allen,

David Vaughan, Andrew Crofts, Jack Collison and Joe Ledley, and

while Edwards knows he has his work cut out, and is unlikely to

start Saturday’s friendly against Norway, he is ready for the

challenge. “The midfield is the strongest part of the team,” he

said. “It is very competitive. You have the likes of Joe Allen, who

has been phenomenal this season, he ran the show in Swansea’s game

against Wolves. “Andrew Crofts is playing in the Premier League and

then you have Joe Ledley and Jack Collison and the list goes on.

“It has been tough watching from the sidelines, but the manager has

been good to me, he has been on the phone, and it’s nice to be back

with the buzz in the squad with everyone doing well. It’s nice to

be back in the frame and to try and get back in the team. “For me

it’s just nice to be in the squad and in the manager’s plan. I now

need to force my way in and get a chance.” But Edwards is

understandably happy to take a long-term approach after his back

problem, which the Shrewsbury-born player explained is hereditary,

made even some of the simpler tasks in life a painful proposition.

“It was my worst injury, it was really hard,” he said. “There’s not

much you can do. “My dad had it and my brother had it and with the

amount of sport I played it was always going to happen. I had a

disc problem in the lower part of my spine that meant the bones

were a bit close together and it caused a stress fracture. “I had

been getting niggling injuries but it was down to the mechanics of

my body, I now have 45 minutes in the gym before training to make

sure I am ready and then I come in afterwards and properly cool

down and make sure everything is okay. In the long run I think it

will make me a better athlete and stronger and quicker. “There were

two or three times when I got close to coming back and it would

flare up again and I thought it might dog me for the rest of my

career. “I base my game on covering lots of ground and I was

worried it would take it away. I was struggling to do anything and

I was wondering how I would be able to take contact on a football

pitch. “Getting in and out of the car was really uncomfortable.

That wasn’t nice at all. When I was getting off the sofa you would

feel it, at the time my little boy was around nine months old and I

could not hold him for very long and I found it hard. “But I feel

good and have had lots of report from doctors and specialists who

are confident I don’t have to worry about it.”