Bale ruled out for Wales
Tottenham winger Gareth Bale has been ruled out of Wales' Euro 2012 qualifier against England on Saturday with a hamstring injury.
Bale did not train on Wednesday, despite reports that he was injured during a session, and he has only recently returned from a back injury that kept him out for six weeks from the end of January until early March.
A statement from the Welsh FA on Thursday read: ''Due to a hamstring problem, Gareth Bale has had to withdraw from the Wales squad to face England on Saturday. He felt tight last week during training with his club.
''After playing 90 minutes on Saturday he felt some muscle tightness. Initially, this was expected to be muscle soreness after playing his first game. On joining up with the Welsh squad he was kept off his feet in training for two days to recover.
''As he still felt tight in the warm-up on Tuesday, Gareth was pulled out of the session. He did not train at all on Wednesday and was sent for a scan. The scan revealed that Gareth Bale picked up his injury last week.''
News of Bale's injury was first reported by the morning papers and commented upon by manager Gary Speed's assistant Raymond Verheijen via his Twitter account.
Verheijen wrote: ''This morning there will be an official statement by Gary Speed about the situation with Gareth Bale. The incompetent amateurs struck again!''
The reference to 'incompetent amateurs' was unexplained but Verheijen has since clarified his remarks to make clear they do not refer to the Spurs medical staff.
The Dutchman added: ''Just spoken with people of Spurs as they thought 'incompetent amateurs' had something to do with them. Promised them to put it on Twitter. Incompetent amateurs are the people who put in the news that Gareth Bale got injured in training with Wales while he did not train at all.''
Manager Speed then decided to take Thursday's media briefing instead of coach Osian Roberts to put the matter straight.
Speed said: "In no way did it refer to Tottenham, that is a given. I can understand it might be portrayed that it was but the fact it was reported Gareth did his hamstring in training yesterday, when he didn't train yesterday, was the incompetent bit.
"We do take a lot of time and effort to make sure our players are right so when something is reported like that that is incorrect, it is not right. That is where the confusion on that side has come from.''
The Tottenham winger will now return to London for treatment on Thursday morning, but it is not yet clear whether he will be fit in time for Tottenham's Champions League quarter-final first leg against Real Madrid on April 5.
The loss of flying winger Bale, now considered one of European football's most potent threats when on top form, is a blow for a Wales side hoping to upset their near-neighbours at Millennium Stadium. England and Tottenham striker Peter Crouch had only spoken on Wednesday of the need to stop his club team-mate if England were to find success in Cardiff.
Crouch said: "Wales' biggest threat is Gareth Bale. We only assess opponents on Thursday and Friday, look at videos and I'm sure Gareth will be prominent in a lot of those videos.''
Although Crouch did not know at the time that Bale might not play, his appraisal of Cardiff's on-loan forward Craig Bellamy - who played with Crouch at Liverpool - hints at where Wales might now turn for attacking inspiration.
He said: "Craig is a good lad. He gets a lot of stick but he only wants to win. When you see him from afar, you see him shouting at refs and shouting at anyone who will listen. But the only reason he's like that is he wants to win. I remember when he was at Liverpool him shouting and screaming at me during one training session. Afterwards I pulled him and said 'what's that about?' and he said 'I forgot'.
"He doesn't know he does it, he just says, 'That's the way I play and I have to shout to get myself geed up for a game', and that's fully understandable. All the talk will be about Gareth Bale but Bellamy is certainly a player we have to watch out for.''