Speed criticises Toshack in Savage row

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Gary Speed, the former Wales captain, has joined the criticism of the way the country's new manager, John Toshack, has handled Robbie Savage.

Gary Speed, the former Wales captain, has joined the criticism of the way the country's new manager, John Toshack, has handled Robbie Savage.

The Blackburn midfielder retired from international football on Monday after being told he was dropped from Toshack's squad for the World Cup double-header against Austria later this month, saying he felt "humiliated" and believed the decision was "personal".

Mark Hughes, the former Wales manager, has entered the debate by insisting Savage was his best player during five years in charge and that the Welsh could not afford to lose a player of such quality. Now Speed, who captained Savage during the Hughes years and retired himself after the defeat by Poland last year, has added his disapproval of the way the 30-year-old has been treated.

Speed also believes a personality clash has led to Savage's departure. He said: "It got personal and Toshack decided to drop a Premiership player before two World Cup qualifiers.

"When Toshack was made manager, 'Sav' and I spoke and I told him to get his head down and play football. Some players don't get on with managers and some managers don't get on with players at club level, but the end result is the product on the pitch.

"We are a small country in football terms and what Toshack has done by not selecting Savage is personal. As a manager he should have risen above any personal criticism."

It was Savage who backed Speed for the Wales job before Toshack was appointed, and Savage has criticised the new regime. Speed added: "Nobody has won. The only loser is Welsh football because whatever your thoughts on Savage's style of play, he is an established Premiership player and he's Welsh.

"We have two matches at the end of the month and needed every available player. The one thing Savage always gave was 100 per cent - I really don't know if Toshack realises what he is missing on and off the field.

"Sav messes around winding people up on the plane, at the training field, in the hotel. He is a joker, but when it comes to his football and playing for Wales he is deadly serious. He's a bubbly character to have around the place and will be a big loss on and off the field."

Hughes knows his club could be better off after Savage's decision, but admitted a degree of disappointment. Hughes said: "It will focus his mind on the job at Blackburn and we are grateful for that. It is just a shame he will not be available for Wales."

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