Hughes rejoices in Bellamy's form

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The Independent Football

Mark Hughes, the Wales manager, cannot wait to unleash Craig Bellamy in Wales' World Cup qualifying campaign after his outstanding display in Wales' 2-0 win over Latvia in Riga on Wednesday, scoring the final goal after John Hartson had netted minutes earlier.

Mark Hughes, the Wales manager, cannot wait to unleash Craig Bellamy in Wales' World Cup qualifying campaign after his outstanding display in Wales' 2-0 win over Latvia in Riga on Wednesday, scoring the final goal after John Hartson had netted minutes earlier.

Hughes, whose team face Azerbaijan and Northern Ireland next month, followed by England in October, yesterday named his squad for the first two matches.

He praised Bellamy, saying: "He is blowing people away. I thought Craig was electric all night, it is the sharpest I have seen him at this stage of a season for many, many years. Fitness-wise, he is spot on. He is confident in his body now because he knows he is fit and well. That shows in the way he approaches games now because he always wants the ball."

Hughes was also delighted with the display of Hartson, who took a fearful physical battering to score a splendid late header that set up Wales to make it five games unbeaten. "John was very disciplined, he didn't have any protection whatsoever from the referee, but John understands all that knowing he will not get a great deal of help from referees," Hughes said.

Hughes now takes his confident squad to Baku to face Azerbaijan on 4 September, with the Ireland game in Cardiff four days later, and has named virtually the strongest squad possible - with the exception of the suspended Ryan Giggs. But he has doubts over the fitness of midfielder Simon Davies and defender Andy Melville.

"We are in danger of looking too far ahead," Hughes warned. "The England game is on the horizon, but we have two big games prior to that."

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