JOE Allen admits the Welsh players are still scarred by their last visit to Serbia in 2012 but he insists the current team is “a million miles” from the one beaten 6-1 in Novi Sad.

Allen, Aaron Ramsey, Ashley Williams and Gareth Bale all played as Wales were thrashed in the 2014 World Cup qualifier that left manager Chris Coleman battling to keep his job.

And, as they return to Serbia for Sunday’s crucial 2018 World Cup qualifier, the Stoke midfielder says he and his teammates will be determined to set the record straight in Belgrade.

“I think that scarred anyone who was involved in that game,” admitted the 27-year-old.

“It scarred us and for me it was the worst night in a Welsh shirt.

“But I think the great thing about going back out there and having another chance is that we can see how far we’ve come.

“Some of the lads are still in the squad. Some of us are new players but I think we’re a million miles away from the team that turned out that night.

“That’s the positive and I think we can draw on that for this game.

“But also as players you can’t help but carry that feeling of wanting to set the record straight.

“I don’t know about all the lads but I think I’ll be using that to help me in this game.”

Allen and teammates will have happier memories from last summer’s remarkable run to the semi-finals of Euro 2016 and Sunday marks a year to the day since the opening match against Slovakia in Bordeaux.

“We’ve tried to use all the positives of last summer and I hope we’ll be able to do that throughout our careers,” said Allen.

“It was such a pivotal moment and a highlight that you can only draw inspiration from that.

“It’s gone fast. To think it’s a year is incredible really but the vibe and the atmosphere in the camp is just as good as it was then and that’s a real positive for us.”

Coleman’s men will need to channel the spirit of 2016 in Belgrade as they will be without star man Bale and key defender Neil Taylor through suspension.

But Allen is certain that the rest of the squad can cope without main man Bale.

“Of course we’re going to miss him,” he said. “There’s no point hiding from that fact. He’s key to us – he’s a world class player.

“But I think one of the main qualities of this group is that we’re all about teamwork.

“We’re all about resilience and we see it as a chance to tackle that challenge and we’re confident that we’ve still got enough in our squad to go out there and get a result.”

Wales are third in Group D – four points behind leaders Serbia and second-placed Republic of Ireland.

But Allen denies that this is a must-win game.

“It’s an important stage of the group and an important game for us, we’re not going to shy away from that,” he added.

“A must-win? We’re not at that stage yet. Obviously the further you get into qualifying the more pressure there can be to pick up points but our mentality in any camp is, whether it’s the first game or the last, we try to approach it in the same way.

“We’re always looking to get a good result, no matter what stage of the group we’re in.

“A defeat would be bad news for us, it goes without saying.

“It would leave us in a tough position but I think if we focus too much on that it will only hurt our performance and that’s never a good thing.”