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Page last updated at 15:38 GMT, Tuesday, 19 August 2008 16:38 UK

Toshack bemoans Gabbidon blow

Danny Gabbidon

John Toshack has revealed injury-prone defender Danny Gabbidon will not play again for Wales until the new year.

The West Ham centre-back, who has not played since last December, has suffered two years of injury hell with groin and back problems.

Gabbidon hoped to return for Wales' opening World Cup qualifiers but boss Toshack does not expect him to return for his country until after Christmas.

Toshack said: "Gabbidon is still way off and won't be back until next year."

Toshack is suffering a defensive injury crisis as experienced 29-year-old Gabbidon, James Collins and Lewin Nyatanga will all miss Wednesday's friendly international against Georgia on Wednesday (1800 BST).

Both Gabbidon and Derby Nyatanga are all long-term absentees while West Ham centre-back Collins is facing a race against time to be fit for Wales' opening 2010 World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan on 6 September.

"We've had the heart ripped out of our defence and that has been frustrating, " said Toshack.

606: DEBATE

"We've enjoyed clean sheets against top teams like the Czech Republic and the Germans when they've all been fit.

"We've been unfortunate and while everyone gets injured, even international sides with greater resources than ours would feel the pinch if it happened to them."

Collins missed virtually all last season with groin and knee problems and eventually needed surgery in February for cruciate ligament damage.

But if the 24-year-old comes through a private practice match this week, Hammers manager Alan Curbishley will consider recalling Collins.

That will boast Toshack's depleted rear-guard that is without Nyatanga who is recovering from a serious knee injury.

"Across the back we are thin on the ground," admitted Toshack

"Our results, though, haven't been that bad.

"Collins is playing for West Ham reserves this week and hopefully he will be available for our World Cup qualifying double-header with Azerbaijan and Russia in September.

"The problem is Collins and Gabbidon haven't suffered just short injuries, they haven't played competitive football for the best part of 12 months .

"That's a long time and it's always difficult for the player to get up to speed with the pace of the game."

Wales captain and star striker Craig Bellamy, who has not played a full 90 minute of competitive football since 21 October last year, is also struggling to recover from a hamstring injury.

Toshack added: "Bellamy will be touch and go.

"He probably won't play for West Ham before then but I get the sensation that if there were Premier League fixtures on that day, he would play.

"So we're hopeful about Bellamy but Gabbidon is way off."

Gabbidon could win his 41st cap in Wales' proposed international friendly on February 11 next year against an opponent yet to be confirmed.


see also
Wales' international fixtures
22 Aug 07 |  Internationals
BBC Sport Wales coverage
24 Dec 06 |  Wales


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