Toshack puts aside player troubles

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The Independent Football

John Toshack distanced himself from the troubles that have surrounded Wales' problem boys Craig Bellamy and Robbie Savage and insisted yesterday he is interested only in them turning up and "doing their best for their country".

John Toshack distanced himself from the troubles that have surrounded Wales' problem boys Craig Bellamy and Robbie Savage and insisted yesterday he is interested only in them turning up and "doing their best for their country".

The new Wales manager admitted he had "no hesitation" in naming Bellamy in his squad to face Hungary in a friendly at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on 9 February.

Bellamy is in the middle of a nightmare situation at Newcastle United after a row with Graeme Souness, manager of the Tyneside club. Savage, too, after weeks of wrangling with Birmingham City before moving to Blackburn Rovers to team up with the former Wales manager Mark Hughes, has also been under a cloud of criticism.

In addition, Bellamy and Savage had been negative about Toshack's appointment, but both were included in the squad to face the Hungarians - Toshack's first since being named manager three months into his second spell in charge of Wales - 11 years after his previous involvement lasted one match.

"I have had no reluctance in selecting Craig, I don't really want to comment on anything else," he said. The fact the player's row with Souness is over his recent right-sided position for the team - a role he has frequently occupied for Wales under Hughes without complaint - does not concern Toshack, who said: "I see him as a right-sided attacker. I am not interested in talking about him, he is in the squad like everyone else and there are 10 days to go before we are all supposed to be assembling for the match."

Toshack, who has lost five players to retirement since Hughes left the job, travelled to see all his players apart from Bellamy before naming the squad.

He continued: "I've spoken to Savage, I went to see him at the West Brom game. Clear the air? For me the air was the same when I went in and when I came out.

"It was just at the time he was starting to have his problems and had seen his club manager the day before, so he wasn't even sure he was playing. We will now have to wait and see when all the players turn up here. It will just be a gentle introduction."

Toshack added: "Bellamy is the only lad I actually haven't seen. I had pencilled in Newcastle's game at Manchester City next week for that, so we don't know with Bellamy now whether he will be involved or not."

Toshack named four uncapped players, and for this one match, he has decided not to include the veteran goalkeeper Paul Jones, currently on loan from Wolves to Watford. He was robbed of potential captain Mark Delaney hours before the squad was announced when the Aston Villa defender was ruled out through a knee injury, while Ben Thatcher is suspended.

The four new faces are Sam Ricketts (Swansea City), David Partridge (Motherwell), Gavin Williams (West Ham) and Danny Collins (Sunderland).

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