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Ricketts keen to avenge Serbia rout
Sam Ricketts saw his 50-cap landmark ruined by defeat in Macedonia as Wales' faint hopes of World Cup qualification ended, but has urged them to refocus and target revenge on Serbia on Tuesday.
The 31-year-old Wolves defender brought up his half-century of appearances for the Dragons in Skopje, but had few reasons to celebrate as Chris Coleman's side subsided to a 2-1 defeat at the Philip II Arena.
The loss means any slim hopes of reaching the 2014 finals have been extinguished and it came at the end of a week where Wales have found themselves firmly in the spotlight; firstly through Gareth Bale's world record move to Real Madrid and then Coleman's failure to locate his passport.
It was hardly a fitting way for Ricketts to bring up a notable career achievement, and he admitted he was hurting.
"To win 50 caps is brilliant on a personal level but more than anything I wanted to mark it with a win," he said.
"We controlled the game well enough to get that win but it did not materialise. It feels a bit raw to be honest.
"We did the things we wanted to do but maybe we did not test their keeper enough. Apart from that I thought the performance was generally of a good level but we are bitterly disappointed to have lost.
"But we know if you perform to that level you will win more games than you lose.
"We controlled it and frustrated them and it showed in how many cards they got and how they were complaining to the referee."
Coleman has made it clear he wanted his side to finish the Group A campaign strongly in order to try to secure third place and a favourable draw ahead of the qualifiers for the expanded Euro 2016 tournament in France.
If Wales are to have any hope of hitting that target they will realistically need to beat Serbia in Cardiff on Tuesday.
The reverse fixture 12 months ago ended in a humiliating 6-1 hammering in Novi Sad which, even at that early stage, indicated Wales were highly unlikely to end their lengthy wait for a place at a major finals.
But Ricketts believes Coleman's side are significantly better then they showed on that night, and with the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Jonathan Williams and hopefully Bale to call on, they can turn the tables.
He said: "We owe Serbia one, you always look back at sides that have beaten you like that and they are the results you want to avenge.
"We know there is huge talent in this squad and a number of youngsters with a lot of caps and a lot of experience.
"There are four or five players coming through who played tonight and will all go on to win 50 caps.
"The future is still looking good, the attacking players we have are very special and if we control the game like we did against Macedonia with players like that more often than not we will win.
"I think we will be in the mix for Euro 2016 but we have not written this campaign off yet.
"People may say we don't need to worry about this campaign, we want to win these games and finish as high as we can."
Ricketts, who has featured at centre-half for Wales despite being more accustomed to full-back, may have to make an adjustment for Tuesday's match after defensive partner and captain Ashley Williams picked up a booking which rules him out.
Ricketts, who himself picked up a knock, said: "Ash is a great player, I have known him for a very long time, he was first part of this squad when he went to Stockport and he has gone on to Swansea and everyone knows how well he has done there.
"I enjoy playing alongside him, we compliment each other's games well and we know each other off the pitch but we have more than adequate people in the squad, like Danny Gabbidon, who can come in and play."