Toshack not doubting Bellamy commitment

Wales manager John Toshack has no doubts about captain Craig Bellamy's commitment to international football.

Last Updated: 22/05/10 at 15:42

Bellamy: Commitment not in question

Bellamy: Commitment not in question

The Manchester City striker pulled out of Sunday's friendly in Croatia with a calf injury.

The 30-year-old had been a surprise inclusion in Toshack's initial squad after missing the previous three matches.

Two of those had been due to injury but Bellamy's omission for the March friendly against Sweden, despite being fully fit, sparked speculation about his Wales future.

Toshack at the time refused to give guarantees his star forward would return for the start of Euro 2012 qualifying in September, leading to rumours of a rift between the pair.

Yet Bellamy's selection for this weekend's encounter in Osijek, for which he was to postpone a visit to his charitable foundation in Africa, suggested any problems had been resolved.

Toshack said: "I have never had any concerns about his commitment, none at all.

"I spoke to him last week and we had a good chat about one or two - or three or four or five - things.

"He was ready to come and play. He was due in Sierra Leone and put his arrangements back.

"He'd been training with Cardiff this week and picked a bit of a calf injury. That was unfortunate, otherwise he would have been here for this one."

Bellamy is just one of 15 players unavailable to Toshack this weekend for what is likely to be a testing fixture.

Eight players have withdrawn from his original 21-man party for a variety of reasons while a further seven were either already injured or involved in the Championship play-off final..

Toshack drafted in four players from the under-21 squad but was still forced to fly out of Cardiff on Friday with just 17 players.

With only one more friendly against Luxembourg in August before the qualifiers begin with a trip to Montenegro the following month, the situation has hampered Toshack's plans.

"It is disappointing," said the former Real Madrid boss.

"It would be disappointing when any game comes around but we took this game on with a view to the opening qualifying game against Montenegro.

"There are similarities between the two matches - there will be a decent crowd here and a hostile atmosphere, and it is pretty much the same part of the world.

"We are down to the bare bones, but we have had virtually a new side on more than one occasion.

"We are without a lot of players but we probably go in with eight of the lads who started in Azerbaijan last year, so we are not entirely a new side."

After a similar selection struggle, Wales beat Azerbaijan 1-0 in a World Cup qualifier last June.

St Mirren's Andy Dorman is likely to be handed a debut in midfield playing alongside Doncaster's Brian Stock, who will earn his second cap.

They will face fearsome opposition in a Croatia side which reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2008 and is still smarting from a failure to qualify for the World Cup.

A crowd near the Gradski Stadium's 19,000 capacity is also expected as Croatia make a rare visit to the eastern city, which still bears some scars from heavy raids during the Croatian War of Independence.

"They are a very patriotic people here and they have suffered a lot with the war those years ago," said Toshack, who along with the players was greeted with a military guard of honour on arrival.

"They are a very proud people and bringing the game here as given them a boost.

"It's just a pity we couldn't bring any of our better-known players to make it even more satisfying."

Wolves' Wayne Hennessey is likely to be given the nod in goal ahead of Hull's Boaz Myhill, but Toshack is concerned neither ended the season as first choice at their clubs.

Toshack said: "Unfortunately they've both been out of favour at their clubs. You can see they are short of match practice.

"We had two Premier League goalkeepers competing for a place - we'd never had that - but now all of a sudden neither of them are competing. Hopefully by the beginning of next season that will change."

One player unlikely to be involved next season is Manchester United veteran Ryan Giggs, who in recent comments hinted at possibly coming out of retirement in an emergency.

Toshack said: "I thought it was a publicity stunt when I read it.

"I haven't heard anything from Ryan or any of the other players who have retired. We haven't had a call from anybody regarding that."

Kick-off is at 6pm.

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