Toshack closes door on Savage

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The Independent Football

John Toshack yesterday gave the strongest hint to date that Robbie Savage will never play for Wales again while he is the manager.

John Toshack yesterday gave the strongest hint to date that Robbie Savage will never play for Wales again while he is the manager. At a briefing in Cardiff to assess his first competitive games in charge - back-to-back defeats against Austria - he was asked for his general stance on retired players who want to change their mind.

"If a player who retires then changes his mind I would take each case into consideration when it was time to pick the squad," Toshack said. "I don't know if I would pick them. Sometimes it can be useful to have an experienced player on the bench - I'm discussing this in general terms."

Without naming Savage, but leaving no doubt he was alluding to him, he added: "In one particular case we would have to analyse a lot of things. We would have to think about the things that have been said, the respect that was lacking for certain people."

The Savage saga has largely overshadowed the Austria matches, with claims that Savage was looking for a way back and might be allowed his chance. Toshack's tone, more than his actual words, strongly suggest Savage has burnt his bridges.

Toshack was in an upbeat mood, despite Wednesday's 1-0 defeat in Vienna, which arose from a goalkeeping howler by Danny Coyne. "I wanted the ground to swallow me up," Coyne said about the moment in the 87th minute when the ball trickled through his hands and legs.

And yet neither Toshack nor Coyne seemed too dejected on the journey back from Austria, quite possibly because, in the privacy of the dressing room, numerous Wales players had taken responsibility for their own mistakes and missed chances.

No doubt this eased Coyne's embarrassment and showed Toshack that at least he has team spirit in his favour, if not a huge choice of top-class talent.

"I've thoroughly enjoyed the last 10 days," Toshack said. "I've been to one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and I've been out in the fresh air working with players. I've eaten at the hotel and had a choice of three or four things from the menu.

"I'm doing something I would willingly do for nothing. I can't believe how fortunate I am. At one point I was talking to Ryan Giggs and he was looking at me in a strange way and I realised I was talking to him in Spanish."

Adjusting to a new regime was always going to take time.

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