Toshack 'no comment' on Bellamy future

Click to follow
The Independent Football

The thorny subject of Craig Bellamy's international career overshadowed Wales' latest efforts after they were beaten 1-0 by Sweden last night.

Bolton's Johan Elmander grabbed the only goal of a low-key international friendly at Swansea's Liberty Stadium on the stroke of half-time.

It was a victory Sweden deserved but Wales showed tenacity in the second half and, driven forward by in the influential Gareth Bale, might have forced a draw with Robert Earnshaw twice going close.

Yet it was Manchester City striker Bellamy who commanded most attention after the match, as manager John Toshack refused to answer questions about his absence.

Bellamy, still officially the Wales captain, was overlooked for the fixture as Toshack suggested the 30-year-old would no longer feature in friendlies.

Yet Toshack's failure to state whether Bellamy would return for the start of Euro 2012 qualifying in September has led to plenty of speculation.

When asked what his position with Bellamy was, Toshack said: "No comment whatsoever."

When pressed further and asked whether Wales had missed Bellamy, Toshack chose to highlight other missing players such as Aaron Ramsey, Joe Ledley and David Edwards.

Bellamy has missed Wales' last three matches and there has been plenty of talk over his international future since he failed to report for training ahead of a friendly against Montenegro last August.

City accepted the blame at the time for that situation for failing to inform Wales about an injury.

Ramsey was missing after suffering a badly broken leg playing for Arsenal in the Premier League last weekend.

The midfielder looks set to be out for at least six months and his Wales team-mates showed their support by warming up in T-shirts bearing his name.

"We learned we want Aaron Ramsey back as quickly as possible," said Toshack.

"In the last few games we have found his best position in our set-up.

"We have had just the one session and since the last game we have virtually had the heart ripped out of the side, particularly in the middle of the park."

Elmander's strike was sublime and worthy of the £10million fee Bolton are often derided for having paid for him.

The 28-year-old has struggled to live up to his price tag since moving to the Reebok Stadium from Toulouse in 2008 and has scored just twice in the Premier League this season.

He showed no lack of confidence as he controlled a bouncing ball from a corner on his chest and fired sweetly past Boaz Myhill.

Sweden coach Erik Hamren has long been an admirer of the player and said: "He has potential! I was the coach when he was 18 playing in Swedish division one.

"I can't say he will score for Bolton but it is more important the team wins.

"It was a really good finish - exactly how I taught him when he was 18!"

Sweden might have won by more after Ola Toivonen had a goal disallowed and Viktor Elm had three good chances late on.

"We were beaten by a better side, a more experienced side," Toshack conceded.

"I think the 1-0 scoreline could have been even worse. I don't criticise the players.

"I don't think we can complain at the result at all. We came up short I'm afraid."