Wales boosted by adjournment of Bellamy court case

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The Independent Online

Craig Bellamy's next public appearance will come as he leads out Wales against Cyprus in tomorrow's Euro 2008 qualifier, rather than in Cardiff magistrates court today, after the case against him alleging common assault was unexpectedly adjourned yesterday.

The 27-year-old Liverpool striker, whose first outing as captain of his country ended in a 5-1 home defeat by Slovakia on Saturday, had been due to stand trial this morning. He is accused of assaulting two women at Cardiff's Number 10 bar and restaurant in February, a charge he denies.

At a hearing yesterday, however, the prosecution solicitor, Catrin Davies, succeeded in having the case adjourned after receiving medical evidence relating to one of the complainants. The judge, John Charles, pronounced himself "staggered" at the lateness of the development in such a high-profile case. A new date will be set on Friday.

Bellamy, handed the armband in the absence of Ryan Giggs by the Wales manager, John Toshack, will again have the responsibility of helping an inexperienced side through another potentially fraught match. Cyprus arrived in the Welsh capital yesterday buoyed by a 5-2 rout of the Republic of Ireland on Saturday.

Toshack is still without Giggs, who has almost recovered from his hamstring problem but now has a high temperature, and feels unable to play John Hartson after the West Bromwich Albion striker declared a willingness to end his international retirement.

"John has had an ankle problem and has played only 45 minutes in the past month," Toshack said. "I spoke to him on Sunday and he isn't 100 per cent. He needs training and matches. I've watched him and he hasn't looked right, but he will give us another option in the future."

The continued unavailability of Carl Fletcher, James Collins, Mark Delaney and Sam Ricketts means Toshack must again trust a largely untried team. Yet if he makes changes from the line-up on Saturday - an afternoon he said caused him "pain and hurt" - they will probably bring the average age down even further.

Lewis Price, 22, of Ipswich, stands by to replace Paul Jones, 39, in goal after the Queen's Park Rangers player's error-strewn display. David Cotterill, 18, a recent capture by Wigan from Bristol City, could come in for Robert Earnshaw up front, while the Cardiff duo of Paul Parry and Joe Ledley, who were both used as substitutes, will be considered.

"This isn't new to me," Toshack said of the criticism he and his players took after their second Group D defeat. "But the minute it doesn't hurt me and dent my pride, I'll say I've had enough. I certainly haven't reached that stage."

"I don't think it helps to take the young players out of the firing line. The main problem is that they haven't had enough football at their clubs. These are learning games for the youngsters and for all of us. But we owe it to ourselves and the public to give it a real go next time out.

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