Bellamy is urged to pull out of Welsh game

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The Independent Football

Sir Bobby Robson, the Newcastle United manager, has urged his striker Craig Bellamy not to jeopardise his season by gambling with his knee injury.

The 24-year-old was hoping to return to training yesterday, with Wales ahead of their Euro 2004 qualifier in Italy on Saturday, for the first time since being ordered to rest the knee he damaged in the defeat by Serbia and Montenegro last month. Bellamy has not played for his club since that game in Belgrade, an absence which coincided with costly home defeats against Manchester United, Partizan Belgrade and Birmingham City.

The Wales manager, Mark Hughes, is desperate to have Bellamy at his disposal for the San Siro and for the match against Finland on Wednesday, but Robson is convinced he is not ready to resume.

"Craig has had the best treatment money can buy from this football club," he said. "He was told to take two or three weeks' rest and he has not trained or kicked a ball for us since then, so it is ironic that he is going off to play for Wales.

"This club has lost £10m by not going through to the Champions' League proper. Will Wales earn £10m if they go through to the finals of Euro 2004? I doubt it very much. What I would say to Craig Bellamy is that if you are 100 per cent fit, then go and play for your country, son. But if you are not 100 per cent - and I mean 100 per cent - then don't take the chance."

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