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‘Principality is where we want to be’

Sam Vokes celebrates his 89th-minute goal against Spain

Wales striker Sam Vokes says Cardiff’s Principality Stadium is “where we want to be” and hopes to play all home games there in the future.

Thursday’s friendly against Spain saw Ryan Giggs’ side return to the venue, formerly known as the Millennium Stadium, after a seven-year absence.

“It is a great ground, it is where we want to be,” said Vokes, who scored in Wales’ 4-1 defeat.

Wales’ home games are usually played at Cardiff City Stadium.

More than 50,000 fans turned out to watch Wales at the Principality – 17,000 more than would fit inside Cardiff City Stadium.

“If you get the ground full there is nothing like it,” said Burnley striker Vokes.

“That’s where we want to be, that’s the end goal. But we know we’ve put on some good performances in Cardiff as well.

“A full Principality is a great event for us.”

Vokes added it was important for Wales to perform well “so the fans come back”.

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Thursday’s game was Wales’ first at the Principality Stadium – formerly known as the Millennium Stadium – since a 2-0 European Championship qualifying defeat by England in March 2011.

Their return to Welsh rugby’s 74,500-capacity home had split opinion among followers of the national football team.

In the intervening seven years, fans have packed the smaller Cardiff City Stadium to create a fervent atmosphere, which has been an important factor in recent Welsh success.

Some were reluctant to leave the ground which Wales’ players consider their home, though the Football Association of Wales sought to capitalise on Spain’s allure by moving this friendly fixture while also insisting competitive matches would remain at the Cardiff City Stadium.

However, ex-Wales international Danny Gabbidon echoed Vokes’ sentiments and said he too would like to see all home games move to the Principality.

Speaking on Ellis James’ Feast of Football podcast, he said: “If I drive past the Principality it obviously brings back memories of playing there, and I just think that’s where the national team should be.”

Gabbidon, however, cautioned: “Obviously if you can’t fill the stadium it’s not worth it.

“When we were getting 70,000 back in the day the atmosphere was amazing, but I played there more often than not when they were struggling to get 20,000, and it was a very difficult place to play.

“I’m torn really, over the last few years it’s been brilliant playing at Cardiff City Stadium, but there are lots of fans that can’t get tickets.”

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