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Bellamy makes Wales return

Craig Bellamy has returned to the Wales squad for their friendly against Austria in Swansea next week.

Last Updated: 31/01/13 at 15:38 Post Comment

Craig Bellamy: Back in the Wales squad

Craig Bellamy: Back in the Wales squad

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The 33-year-old Cardiff striker has missed the first four matches of the Dragons' World Cup qualifying campaign, but he has been included in Chris Coleman's group for next week's Liberty Stadium encounter.

Bellamy has not played for his country since the 2-0 defeat to Bosnia-Herzegovina in August of last year, and his absence fuelled speculation he was set to step down from international football after 70 caps and 19 goals.

Coleman had called on the former Liverpool and Manchester City forward to make his intentions clear.

Although Bellamy has resisted his manager's calls on the matter, he has been selected after helping Cardiff forge a healthy lead at the top of the npower Championship table.

"I never thought Craig would knock it on the head.

"As you get older, physically it is harder to keep playing international football. Craig had a few problems last year and it was difficult for him, but he has that spark in his eye for football.

"He has already played 70 times for Wales, so he has paid his dues and turned up for friendlies and end-of-season games; not everyone does that.

"But he has fallen in love with football again, Cardiff are getting the rewards of that and it will be nice to have him back in the squad.

"I had a really good chat with him seven to 10 days ago. Cardiff are doing well and Craig's fitness is good.

"He is playing down the middle, which I think is his favourite position, so I think it is all positive and be nice to have him back.

"We will take it game by game, he has had his injury problems and is not getting any younger, but has a lot to offer provided he is fit physically and mentally."

West Ham midfielder Jack Collison is another to return to the squad after being beset by knee injury problems since last appearing in the Gary Speed Memorial Match against Costa Rica almost a year ago.

Ashley Williams retains the captaincy, having taken over from previous incumbent Aaron Ramsey ahead of the October qualifiers against Scotland and Croatia, while Norwich striker Steve Morison misses out through injury.

Bolton's Craig Davies comes in to the squad as Morison's replacement while there is also a call-up for former Wales Under-21 captain Jazz Richards.

The defender provides cover with James Collins and Danny Gabbidon both injured.

Gabbidon's Crystal Palace team-mate Darcy Blake also misses out due to being short of match fitness.

Goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey remains sidelined by a serious knee injury while Jason Brown is omitted after recently leaving Aberdeen in search of regular first-team football.

Coleman named a squad of 22, but could add an additional player after this weekend's league action.

Wales squad to face Austria at the Liberty Stadium on Wednesday, February 6:

Lewis Price (Crystal Palace), Boaz Myhill (West Brom), Owain Fon Williams (Tranmere), Ashley Williams (Swansea, captain), Jazz Richards (Swansea), Joel Lynch (Huddersfield), Sam Ricketts (Bolton), Chris Gunter (Reading), Adam Matthews (Celtic), Ben Davies (Swansea), Jack Collison (West Ham), Andy King (Leicester), Joe Allen (Liverpool), Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal), David Vaughan (Sunderland), Joe Ledley (Celtic), Gareth Bale (Tottenham), Hal Robson-Kanu (Reading), Sam Vokes (Burnley), Simon Church (Reading), Craig Bellamy (Cardiff) Craig Davies (Bolton).


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