wales news

Welsh FA bemused by Bellamy withdrawal

August 10, 2009

Craig Bellamy's Wales future could be in jeopardy following his failure to show up for the trip to face Montenegro.

Craig Bellamy
GettyImages / MarkThompsonBellamy: Patched things up with Toshack.

Wales boss John Toshack is privately seething that Manchester City "forgot'' to inform the Football Association of Wales that their captain was not fit for the trip to the Balkans, and Wednesday's match.

Toshack needed to have the situation explained to him on arrival at Podgorica airport, having left Cardiff on an early-morning flight with the rest of his squad.

He was told by a reporter that Manchester City had omitted to contact the FAW over Bellamy's fitness following Saturday's 2-1 win over Celtic when the 30-year-old scored the winner.

Toshack diplomatically said at the airport: "I have not heard from the player or the club, I don't know why he is not here.''

An FAW source said: "Craig was due to report to the team hotel on Sunday evening, but did not arrive. Messages were left on his answer-phone but he did not reply.

"When the squad left the team hotel om Monday morning heading for the airport, we still had not heard from player or club.

"Frankly we are surprised that someone could not have picked up the phone and rung the manager to tell him the situation. It is not as if there are no Welshmen at City.''

City boss Mark Hughes, Toshack's predecessor as Wales manager, had cast doubt over Bellamy's involvement in the Montenegro match last week and ironically Wales were expecting a problem.

Toshack is more that sympathetic with Premier League managers who are concerned that their players are involved in internationals just days before the season's opening matches.

But the source said: "Craig could have rung John Toshack at the team hotel himself, that does not seem too difficult.''

The FAW are stunned by City's explanation that they forgot to notify them over Bellamy's situation.

The Cardiff-born striker has not played for his country since February in a 1-0 defeat by Poland and was embroiled in the fall-out in March when Wales lost embarrassingly to Finland and Germany in Cardiff, to virtually end their chances of reaching next summer's World Cup finals in South Africa.

Bellamy was ruled out of both matches through injury, but in the aftermath was one of the senior players Toshack criticised for lacking leadership in an otherwise young squad.

Bellamy was injured for the win in Azerbaijan at the end of last season, but recalled for the trip here and would have captained his country, winning his 57th cap.

But Toshack will now look closely at the situation in the future, and it will be interesting to see whether Bellamy is called up for the final qualifying games against Russia, Finland and Liechtenstein in the next couple of months.

The fact that Bellamy trained at City today, and friends knew he was not going to be at the team's hotel on Sunday, had not eased the tension between Wales and City.

City issued a statement saying: "Craig Bellamy is continuing his fitness and rehabilitation work following a knee injury. He suffered a reaction following Saturday's game against Celtic and is therefore unavailable to represent Wales in this week's friendly against Montenegro.

"Craig's situation should have been communicated to the Football Association of Wales over the weekend, but a misunderstanding on the process meant this was regrettably not done until today.

"Manchester City have now made contact with the Football Association of Wales to clarify the situation.''

That contact was not made until Toshack and the squad were already in the air heading for Podgorica.

Cardiff skipper Joe Ledley, 22, travelled with the squad despite having been substituted on Saturday against Scunthorpe with sickness.

Wolves midfielder David Edwards is out with a groin problem, but Ledley - if declared fit - is expected to continue as Wales captain in Bellamy's absence.