Blake woe for Wales

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The Independent Football

Nathan Blake is almost certainly out of Wales' World Cup Group Five match with Belarus in Cardiff tomorrow.

The Wolves striker reported for international duty on Tuesday, but was sent straight back to his club, who wanted to carry out further treatment for his shin and Achilles injuries.

Wales will also be without the Tranmere midfielder Jason Koumas, who has been struggling with a calf injury which could keep him out of action for three weeks. Swansea's Stuart Roberts, Cardiff's Daniel Gabbidon or Blackburn's James Thomas could be promoted to the senior bench as cover.

Pat McGibbon is the surprise call-up to Northern Ireland's squad for tomorrow's World Cup Group Three visit to Malta.

The Wigan centre-half was drafted in by Sammy McIlroy after Aaron Hughes pulled out with a hamstring injury, but will have to make do with a place on the bench as McIlroy opts for Colin Murdock and George McCartney in central defence.

As well as Hughes, McIlroy has lost Neil Lennon, Keith Gillespie, Philip Mulryne and Paul McVeigh through injury.