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Bellamy poised to make Wales return
Published : 13 May 2010 13:04:00Rss feed
Manchester City striker Craig Bellamy has surprisingly been named in the Wales squad for this month's international friendly against Croatia. Bellamy was thought unlikely to feature in the match in Osijek on May 23 having missed his country's last three games. Manager John Toshack had spoken recently of not picking the 30-year-old for friendlies while the player was also expected to visit his charity footballing foundation in Sierra Leone. Bellamy has played in just two of Wales' last nine fixtures and there has been speculation over his international future since an injury row last August. That erupted when Bellamy failed to report for training for a friendly against Montenegro due to a knee injury. City accepted the blame at the time for failing to inform the Football Association of Wales of the problem. Bellamy did return for World Cup qualifiers against Russia and Finland but has missed the last three friendlies. His absence from the squad for the last of those, against Sweden in March, fuelled fresh speculation because he had recently returned to full fitness for City. And Toshack refused to categorically state that Bellamy would return for the start of Euro 2012 qualifying next season, instead highlighting the importance of friendlies for younger players. It therefore seemed unlikely Bellamy would make the end-of-season trip to Croatia, particularly having made arrangements to travel to Sierra Leone, but his selection suggests a thawing in his relationship with Toshack. An FAW statement explained that Bellamy's trip to Africa had been delayed "a few days", allowing him to join up with the squad. Tottenham's in-form left-back Gareth Bale, however, has been given time to rest while Toshack will also be without his Cardiff and Blackpool players. The progress of both of those clubs to the Coca-Cola Championship play-off final means Cardiff trio Joe Ledley, Adam Matthews and Darcy Blake are unavailable along with Blackpool's Neal Eardley, David Vaughan and Rob Edwards. Rob Earnshaw and Chris Gunter are included after Nottingham Forest's elimination from the play-offs while Leicester's Andy King also takes his place. West Ham's Danny Gabbidon and David Edwards of Wolves return after missing the Sweden fixture but Aaron Ramsey, Jack Collison and Joe Allen are all out injured. Andy Dorman of St Mirren is the only uncapped player in the 21-man squad. Toshack said: "This will be a stern test for the players, especially as the Croatians expect a full house in Osijek and a very passionate crowd. "However, it fits the profile of opponents for us, with the matches coming up against Montenegro and Bulgaria in the autumn." Wales squad for international friendly against Croatia in Osijek on May 23: Hennessey (Wolves), Myhill (Hull), Collins (Aston Villa), Gabbidon (West Ham), Gunter (Nottm Forest), Morgan (Peterborough), Nyatanga (Bristol City), Ricketts (Bolton), Williams (Swansea), Crofts (Brighton), Davies (Fulham), Dorman (St Mirren), Edwards (Wolves), King (Leicester), Stock (Doncaster), Bellamy (Man City), Church (Reading), Cotterill (Swansea), Earnshaw (Nottm Forest), Evans (Sheff Utd), Vokes (Wolves).