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Allen looking to improve form

Joe Allen admits his recent Liverpool form has been below par but hopes to turn the corner when Wales face Austria on Wednesday.

The 22-year-old midfielder enjoyed an impressive start to life at Anfield after completing his 15million summer move from Swansea.

But a failure to maintain those high standards has seen the Welshman relegated to a place on the bench in recent weeks.

Allen came in for particular criticism from Reds fans after a poor display in the defeat against Manchester United, while earlier in the season Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer accused him of being too "safe" in his approach.

Allen is honest enough to admit some of the flak that has come his way has been justified, but is hoping to bounce back when he wins his 13th cap at the Liberty Stadium.

He said: "Everyone knows my form hasn't been great. That goes without saying. It's been disappointing not to have been involved in every game and play every game.

"But it's up to me now to work hard and get myself back in the team and improve my level of performance.

"It happens to everyone in football. We all have highs and lows. But I'm excited and looking forward to turning that around at some stage in the near future.

"I'm delighted to be back with the Wales squad, I am looking forward to hopefully being involved on Wednesday and I will try to put in a good performance if I do play."

Of his criticism from former Blackburn striker Shearer back in the autumn, he added: "Alan Shearer's career and Premier League experience was incredible. When he speaks, people listen.

"I think I can use it as a springboard to help improve my game. It's always interesting to see what those players have to say.

"I want to improve all aspects of my game. I'm a perfectionist and maybe that's part of my problem.

"Sometimes I get frustrated and disappointed when things aren't perfect. In terms of what Alan said, I can try and learn from it.

"It's difficult because at the time I thought I was playing well but people can have their own opinions."

While Allen is hoping to reverse his fortunes, his Wales team-mate Gareth Bale will be hoping for more of the same.

The 23-year-old Tottenham winger has been in sensational form of late, grabbing stunning goals in each of his last two games against Norwich and West Brom.

His scoring exploits have been such that Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas is considering moving Bale up front, with Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor unavailable.

And Wales manager Chris Coleman admits it is an option he is considering, given Bale has scored the only three goals of the former Fulham manager's reign.

"Gareth will not start up front against Austria, but it is something I'm actively considering for the future," said Coleman

"You have to score goals to win matches and it's a role he could perform, without any shadow of a doubt.

"I do think about these things. Can I surprise Scotland or Croatia by playing someone like Gareth out of position?

"He could even perform this role of a false nine, so to speak, the system Spain have used, and Barcelona also play that way from time to time with Lionel Messi.

"Could I see Gareth doing that for us, too? Yes I could."