International week and a football fan's dilemma

9th November

Aaron Ramsey is giving me a headache.


Now I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling this way about the Arsenal and Wales star. There are players and managers all over Europe who are being similarly disturbed by the talented midfielder.


But my headache is different to theirs. It is a headache that can only be experienced and understood by football fans with one eye on the international weekend looming on the horizon.


Ramsey's recent hamstring injury was obviously a massive blow in the run up to Wales' home double-header against Bosnia and Cyprus.


But now I am hoping he is going to be fully recovered and firing on all cylinders for next weekend's crunch clash with group favourites Belgium.


Ideally, that would involve him putting in a sparkling league display for the Gunners this weekend, to prove he's fully recovered and on form.


Now do you see my problem? As much as I want to see Ramsey back at the top of his game, his last match before Belgium is against my beloved Swans this evening.


So naturally I want him to have an absolute stinker, but then miraculously recover his mercurial form by next Sunday and play a starring role in chalking up a famous victory over the Belgians!


Such are the foibles of being a football fan. One minute a player can be an absolute hero, a man you will cheer to the rafters in order to inspire him on to greater things.


The next, you want him to be so inept that he can't even run onto the pitch without tripping over his own bootlaces - obviously avoiding injury and being fit as a fiddle for the next international call-up!


I know many of you don't share my passion for both club and country. All you care about is that Ramsey has an utter nightmare today and to Hell with next Sunday's international.


But I'm afraid after enduring a lifetime of near misses, hard luck stories and sheer daylight robbery (yes, I'm talking to you Mr Jordan!) I'm desperate to see Wales qualify for a major tournament.


I always get nervous when Welsh players face the Swans. I hate any player doing well against them, but it's always all the more galling when it's a Taff that trips us up.


My first experience of this was back in the late 1970s when a young Welsh goalkeeper by the name of Martin Thomas almost single-handedly kept the Swans out in a 1-0 FA Cup third round defeat in 1979.


Then there was Ian Rush banging in four goals in two matches against us here in the early 1980s in the old First Division and the FA Cup.


And who could forget Gareth Bale's excellent strike against us for Spurs a couple of seasons ago?


Welsh players just shouldn't be allowed to score against the Swans. It's not fair! Of course it's perfectly acceptable for the likes of Wayne Routledge to bang in goals against English teams!


As you have probably deduced by now, I am one mixed-up mother country lover. Or should that be father country lover seeing as we're in the Land of my Fathers.


Just to complicate things even further for me, this may be the Land of My Father, but it isn't the land of my birth . . . I was born in London, albeit to Welsh parents.


This opens up a whole new can of worms, and brings me to another international dilemma over the recently called-up Jonjo Shelvey and the rest of the English contingent in the Swans squad.


Perhaps I should explain a little further. Although I was born in England, I simply cannot bring myself to support the national team on the international stage.


I've tried, but it's simply not there. I can't cheer on England to win when they play football. Simple as that.


Yes, I know they are our neighbours and we should love them to bits, but in football terms I just can't.


Let me put it like this. Arsenal fans, Spurs are your nearest neighbours, but do you cheer them on? Exactly!


So having established my problems with Welshman Ramsey facing the Swans, let's move on to Jonjo and other Swans playing for England.


This isn't a problem I've ever had to worry about before. Until the last few years, the prospect of a Swans player also wearing the white of England has been relatively remote.


I suppose the closest we ever came when I first started following the Swans was Bob Latchford, but even in his case, realistically his England career was over by the time he came to the Vetch. Even more so for the likes of Liverpool old boys Ian Callaghan, Tommy Smith and latterly Emlyn Hughes.


I absolutely worshipped Callaghan and Smith when I was a kid, but I'm glad I never had the dilemma of seeing them pull on the white of England while they were also wearing the white of the Swans.


But now I'm faced with the very real prospect of seeing a current Swans player also turning out for England.


It's going to be interesting to see how I feel about it. I'm obviously going to want to see the likes of Jonjo do well, but will it extend to wanting England to win?!


Perhaps the ideal scenario would be for him to score a hat-trick in a man of the match performance, only for England to lose 4-3.


See what I mean about the dilemmas facing football fans during international week? I know it's irrational, childish even, but whoever said football fans were rational? If we were, half of us wouldn't support the teams we do.


Anyway, back to this afternoon and my worries over a Welshman playing against the Swans.


Perhaps Arsene Wenger might come to the rescue and give Aaron the weekend off. That way he's no threat to the Swans and he'll be fit and fresh to face the Belgians. Problem solved!


Vive La France and Come on you Swans!