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Page last updated at 17:16 GMT, Tuesday, 10 February 2009

'Healthy' Wales encourage Bellamy

WALES v POLAND
Venue: De Santo Sports Complex, Vila Real Date: Wednesday, 11 February Kick-off: 1715 GMT Coverage: Live on S4C, full commentary on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru and online


Craig Bellamy
Captain Craig Bellamy sees a bright future ahead for Wales

Craig Bellamy says Wales' next two World Cup qualification games are vital in their quest to make a major finals.

And the captain adds the young talent breaking into John Toshack's senior squad has filled him with optimism.

The striker is battling to be fit for Wednesday's friendly against Poland, the final build-up for make-or-break home matches with Finland and Germany.

Bellamy said the young players coming through made the team: "probably the healthiest it's been in my time".

"We have a very good group of young boys coming through, probably more than what we've had for a few years now...so obviously we're all excited about that.

"But we all want to qualify as well and I think over the last few years we haven't come anywhere near close enough to that, we've been out basically by the first four-five months.

I don't like to miss any game, whether it's club, whether it's international

Wales captain Craig Bellamy

"Basically we've been playing out the last year of qualifiers without any chance, just trying to maybe get a good seeding.

"So it would be nice obviously in this campaign and over the next campaign to go down to the wire and have a right good go at this."

Wales have won two and lost two of their Group Four qualifying matches so far and sit third in the table behind leaders Germany and Russia.

The Dragons have only qualified once for a major finals, the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.

After Wednesday's warm-up against Poland - being played in Portugal - Wales face Finland in Cardiff on 28 March, then Germany four days later, also at the Millennium Stadium.

"These next two games are vital for us if we're going to have any opportunity... of trying to qualify in this group," Bellamy added.

"We are still probably going to need to beat Russia at home next season to have any chance of second spot.

"We are not going to win the group, that's being realistic, but we have a chance of being second.

"Because at the moment we're coming up with the players who are going to give us a good opportunity of doing that."

Gareth Bale, Chris Gunter (both Tottenham), Rhys Williams (Middlesbrough), Jack Collison (West Ham), Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) and Ched Evans (Manchester City) are all with Premier League clubs.

Add that crop to the likes of in-demand Cardiff skipper Joe Ledley plus Wolves pair Sam Vokes and Wayne Hennessey, and Wales have the core of their side for years to come.

With head coach Toshack having signed a two-year contract extension last week, Wales' prospects are looking good.

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Bellamy is an injury doubt with a swollen knee for the friendly with Poland, which will take place in Vila Real, but says he is still hopeful of winning his 55th cap.

"That's why I'm here, otherwise I could have said: 'look, I'm not available.' I do believe I've a good chance, it's just a kick," said Manchester City's new £14m signing.

"I've got a bit of bruising at the moment, but that is the game obviously.

"But just trying to get the swelling down and the bruising down so I can play tomorrow.

"Every game is important for me, I don't like to miss any game, whether it's club, whether it's international... games are very important to me because I just want to keep playing."

Wales are without senior players James Collins, Simon Davies, Rob Earnshaw and Jason Koumas, Craig Davies and Craig Morgan are also sidelined, while Danny Gabbidon is still on the long-term injury list.



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see also
Toshack backs Bale improvement
10 Feb 09 |  Internationals
Wales fear Bellamy injury absence
09 Feb 09 |  Internationals
Young Collison hails Zola tuition
09 Feb 09 |  Internationals
Country profile: Portugal
23 Oct 09 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Poland
21 Aug 09 |  Country profiles
Earnshaw recalled to Wales squad
26 Aug 08 |  Internationals
Injured Bale out for three months
10 Dec 07 |  Tottenham
Bale closes on Tottenham switch
24 May 07 |  Tottenham
Pick your Wales XI
05 Feb 07 |  Internationals
Wales' international fixtures
22 Aug 07 |  Internationals
Wales' results archive
10 Oct 05 |  Internationals
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Feb 09 |  Wales


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