Toshack's slur drives Thatcher away

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The Independent Football

Thatcher, who has almost certainly now played his last game for his country, was unhappy with his treatment by the Football Association of Wales prior to the recent matches with England and Poland, when the legitimacy of an ankle injury was questioned by Toshack, with the Welshman insisting on a medical in Manchester by their surgeon.

That examination confirmed an injury, but Toshack further fanned the flames after the England match by suggesting that Thatcher was more concerned about playing in the Manchester derby.

English-born Thatcher is also believed to be angry with media attacks doubting his loyalty to Wales. He said: "For anyone to question my loyalty is ridiculous, I am proud to play for Wales and always will be."

Since then, there have been more discussions with the player, resulting in Thatcher "making himself unavailable" for the forthcoming games against Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan.

Toshack, who saw several senior men quit when he was appointed a year ago, has also been involved in a long-running row with Robbie Savage, who he refuses to pick for the Wales squad after the Blackburn player "retired" from international football last season after being axed from the squad to face Austria. Savage has since made himself available again but accepts he is no longer in Toshack's plans.

Thatcher issued a statement which read: "Certain comments and actions in the build-up to the England and Poland games have made my position within the Welsh squad untenable for the time being." Thatcher has not retired and only specified that he is unavailable for these two matches, but the prospects of Toshack selecting him in the future seem slim.

Wales squad for World Cup Group Six qualifiers (v Northern Ireland, Belfast, 8 October) and Azerbaijan, Cardiff, 12 October): Price (Ipswich), Jones (Wolves), Brown (Gillingham), Delaney (Aston Villa), Duffy (Coventry), Page (Coventry), J Collins (West Ham), D Collins (Sunderland), Ricketts (Swansea), Edwards (Wolves), Partridge (Bristol City), Davies (Everton), Roberts (Tranmere), Fletcher (West Ham), Robinson (Sunderland), Koumas (West Brom), Vaughan (Crewe), Williams (West Ham), Earnshaw (West Brom), Bellamy (Blackburn), Hartson (Celtic), Giggs (Man Utd), * Gabbidon (West Ham).

* for Azerbaijan match only