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Toshack hoping experienced Wales stars stay fit

Wales boss John Toshack admits he is praying that his experienced stars stay fit enough for long enough to guide the team to success at international level.

And that wish counts double with regard to captain Craig Bellamy, who starts his first game for Wales for a year this evening at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium against Liechtenstein in their World Cup qualifier.

Bellamy is finally back for his country after an extended absence due to abdominal, groin and hamstring problems.

But he has delighted his international boss by stating his intention to continue to press for honours with his country.

He said: "I have no intention of retiring from international football. I know some players in my position have done.

"After injuries they want to give themselves a chance to prolong their club careers. I respect those decisions, but it is not for me.

"I have missed too many games for Wales to walk away now. I still believe I can play in a major finals for my country, and I hope I can still be around to help the youngsters in our squad achieve that.''

Toshack, like Bellamy, will be keeping his fingers crossed that the West Ham striker completes the group four match without any further injury problems.

He said: "Craig, along with the likes of Simon Davies and Jason Koumas, are at the right stage of their career to be successful internationals.

"I just hope they can all stay fit. We just need them to keep fit and be able to help our youngsters, just like such people as Ryan Giggs and Gary Speed were able to help them when they were younger.''

Toshack has confirmed that young goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey has recovered from illness to be available, and he may also give a first start in six months to defender James Collins, who has recovered from a cruciate knee operation.

Toshack wants Bellamy to inspire his team-mates to victory against Liechtenstein.

He said: "Of course it is going to be hard to qualify from this group with such powerful nations as Germany and Russia to overcome.

"That is why we must beat Liechtenstein. But also for everybody to keep believing we can do it.

"We don't under-estimate anyone and Liechtenstein will be a proud side, strong and physical.

"But we have Bellamy back for the first time in a year. He has missed so much as we are just happy he is available again.

"Hopefully he can inspire us to the victory we need. We have players in attack I feel can be the difference between the sides.''

And Toshack's view of Bellamy's state of mind is clear.

"He has been out for so long, it will feel like Christmas Day for him when he steps out at the Millennium for this one,'' he said.

"He is just delighted to have his fitness back. He has worked so hard to make his body stronger, I am looking forward to seeing him back leading our attack.''


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