Wales leave Koumas out of squad through lack of fitness

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The Independent Football

West Bromwich Albion's Jason Koumas has pulled out of the Wales squad to play Bulgaria in a friendly in Swansea tonight. The midfielder, whose move to Cardiff has now stalled, is still not back in training after a summer of dispute with his manager, Bryan Robson, that is believed to have cost him £60,000 in fines following his self- imposed exile.

His club situation, along with the Wrexham-born player having done little more than running in local parks during the summer, has led to the decision to withdraw after a discussion with his manager John Toshack.

It had initially been thought that Koumas would spend two days working with Wales before returning to the Hawthorns in an attempted reconciliation with Robson. But the Wales hierarchy accept he is nowhere near the fitness level needed, so there was no point in him joining the squad. They also did not want to be seen to be taking sides in the issue with West Bromwich.

Toshack is believed to have left Koumas in no doubt that he should return to train with his club. Cardiff's Paul Parry has been added to the squad.

A Football Association of Wales spokesman said: "Everyone is in no doubt now about the situation, John Toshack has spoken to Jason to underline his view. The player cannot possibly be fit to play at this level after the summer he has had, so it is best that he does not join up with the squad."

Wales' only other absentee from the squad is the defender David Partridge, out with a groin injury.

Craig Bellamy has joined up with the squad after helping Liverpool win the Community Shield against Chelsea in Cardiff, in effect moving from one hotel in the city to another on Sunday evening to link up with Toshack's squad.

Wales Under-21 managed to get to the Netherlands on Sunday for their Uefa Championship match with Israel tomorrow, when the game played in Waalwijk. The manager Brian Flynn has suffered a blow with the absence of key defender Gareth Bale (thigh), after the Southampton youngster had made an impressive start to their campaign. Also out is Wrexham's Mark Jones (back). Matty Collins (Fulham) and Gareth Blazey (Cardiff) are called up.

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