Wales remain hopeful over Collins

23 March 2009 06:00
Wales are facing a week-long battle to get West Ham defender James Collins fit for their World Cup qualifiers against Finland and Germany.Collins, who has been struggling with a hamstring injury, has not played since West Ham's 2-1 defeat at Bolton on February 21, although he is back in full training.Wales boss John Toshack had been hoping that Collins would have been involved in the Premier League game at Blackburn on Saturday, but the 25-year-old did not even figure in the squad.But Collins has intimated to the FA of Wales that he is confident he will be fit to face Finland at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on Saturday.An FAW spokesman said: "It is not ideal that James will not have played any football ahead of the internationals, but he seems confident he will be OK."Skipper Craig Bellamy has joined up with the squad, having made a 25-minute appearance as substitute during Manchester City's 1-0 win over Sunderland on Sunday.Bellamy suffered a knee injury against his former club, West Ham, on March 1 and Sunday's match was his first since the injury.Whether Collins and Bellamy will be able to play in two matches in five days - with the game against Germany in Cardiff on April 1 - is open to question, but the Finland match is considered the most important in the battle for qualification from group four.Rhys Williams, the Middlesbrough defender on loan at Burnley, has been elevated to the senior squad, while Bristol City's Gavin Williams and Peterborough's Craig Morgan have, as expected, withdrawn due to injury.There have also been changes in the under-21 squad due to face Luxembourg in UEFA championship matches on Friday at the Stade du Complex Sportif Deich, Ettelbruck and at Llanelli next Tuesday.Rhys Taylor (Chelsea) and Joe Partington (Bournemouth) are both out, with call-ups for Chris Maxwell (Wrexham), Jake Taylor (Reading), Casey Thomas (Swansea)and James Bloom (Cardiff).

Source: Eurosport