READING FC right-back Chris Gunter has spoken of his honour at equalling Gary Speed's Wales appearance record as he prepares to captain his country for the first time tonight.

The 28-year-old Royal will win his 85th cap when he leads out Chris Coleman's men for a friendly against Panama in Cardiff (7.45pm ko).

That puts Gunter joint second on the appearance list and level with late midfielder Speed.

It would also leave him seven behind goalkeeper Neville Southall, a gap the Newport-born defender is almost certain to surpass in the near future to become Wales' most capped player.

Gunter, who penned a new Reading contract in the summer, told a FA Wales press conference: "It means the world to captain my country and to be level with someone of Gary's stature is a huge honour.

"To get to that number, it is quite special to equal his record.

"It is always nice when the caps tot up, but you don't think about it until people mention it to you."

Gunter made his Wales debut in 2007 and has since missed only four senior internationals - one through suspension and two while he was in the Under 21s.

In fact, tonight's appearance will be his 64th in succession for Wales.

The last time he missed a game was back in 2010 when he was sent off in a 2-1 defeat to Bulgaria when Brian Flynn was the manager.

Local Berkshire:

Reading's Chris Gunter will captain Wales for the first time tonight.

Gunter, who has his own song invented by Wales fans, helped Coleman's men reach the semi finals of Euro 2016 when they were beaten by eventual winners Portugal.

He added: "To be captain is a big thing. I understand players have different situations but your job as a footballer is to play.

“And having been in the Championship quite a while, you get used to playing Tuesday-Saturday.”

Reading midfielder Dave Edwards is also in Coleman's squad for the clash against Panama.

Meanwhile, Reading captain Paul McShane faces a huge night ahead as Republic of Ireland look to book their place at the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia.

Martin O'Neill's side host Denmark (7.45pm) in the second leg of their play-off after the first leg ended 0-0.

A host more Reading players have been on international duty over the past week including Mo Barrow (Gambia), Anssi Jaakkola (Finland),  Leandro Bacuna (Curacao), on-loan striker Deniss Rakels (Latvia), Axel Andresson (Iceland U21s), Jordan Holsgrove (Scotland U19s) and Jack Nolan (England U17s).

All senior Royals players will links up with Royals boss Jaap Stam later this week ahead of Saturday's home clash with Championship leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers (3pm ko).

Royals will be seeking a third straight league victory having beaten Derby County away and Nottingham Forest at home in their last two fixtures.