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Page last updated at 16:16 GMT, Thursday, 6 January 2011

Speed accepts Bellamy's offer to quit as Wales captain

Craig Bellamy
Bellamy has won 59 Wales caps in his 12-year international career

Wales manager Gary Speed has confirmed he has accepted Craig Bellamy's offer to stand down as national team captain.

The Cardiff City striker offered to quit as skipper because he will be unable to play every game for Wales as he manages a long-standing knee injury.

James Collins and Ashley Williams and Fulham's Simon Davies, who Speed has asked to come out of international retirement, are the leading candidates.

"I've accepted Craig's offer as that is the sensible way to go," said Speed.

The new Wales manager, who was confirmed as John Toshack's successor last month, insists no decision has been made on who will succeed Bellamy.

But centre-back partners Collins and Williams and midfielder Davies have previously skippered their country as Speed prepares for his first game in charge on 8 February as Wales open their Carling Cup bid against the Republic of Ireland.

Bellamy, on loan at home-town club Cardiff from Premier League giants Manchester City, has met new manager Speed about the captaincy issue and told his old team-mate that he cannot commit to play every Welsh international.

The 31-year-old's career has been blighted by knee trouble. Bellamy has a specially tailored training programme and should only play one match a week in an attempt to manage his problem and prolong his career.

And Bellamy, who replaced Ryan Giggs as Wales skipper in 2007, will miss Speed's first Wales game in Dublin because he will be required by Cardiff for the Championship south Wales derby in Swansea on 6 February.

Whoever we are going to pick, we are trying to be long-term and pick someone who can deal with the responsibilities of being an international captain

Wales manager Gary Speed

"The nature of Craig's injuries is that he won't be able to play every game," said Speed.

"For example the first game in Ireland, Cardiff and Swansea play two games before so the way Craig's injuries have affected him before, we know he will not play in that game.

"It is sensible and logical if you are picking a captain, and you know Craig is not going to be there all of the time, to give the job to somebody else."

Bellamy made his Wales debut against Jamaica in March 1998 but his injury problems have restricted him to 59 caps from a possible 106 internationals.

Swansea City defender Williams first captained Wales as a stand-in for the injured Bellamy and Collins in a 3-0 friendly win over Scotland at the Cardiff City Stadium in November 2009.

And Williams led a Wales team that included Collins in their last Euro 2012 qualifying double-header in defeats to Bulgaria and Switzerland in October.

Aston Villa defender Collins is Williams' main captaincy rival but has suffered his own injury problems that have hampered his involvement with Wales.

Williams, meanwhile, has missed just one international since his debut against Luxembourg in March 2008 and won 24 caps.

And the 26-year-old 2009 Welsh Footballer of the Year has already revealed his desire to succeed Bellamy as national team captain.

Craig Bellamy reassesses Wales position

But Speed also reveals Davies, who retired from international football in August 2010 after winning 58 caps, should be considered as a potential skipper.

"Ash took it over last year while James is a regular Premier League player so they are obvious candidates," said Speed.

"I think Simon is captaincy material, there is no doubt about that.

"If you look at the way he is playing and his longevity in the Premier League with Tottenham, Everton and now Fulham, then he must be doing something right.

"We'll sit down and see which way we're going to go.

"But whoever we are going to pick, we are trying to be long-term and pick someone who can deal with the responsibilities of being an international captain.

"It is a big responsibility. But no decision has been made yet. We have a few people in mind but that will stay with me."

Collins had been touted as a potential Wales captain of the future by Speed's predecessor Toshack and the experienced 27-year-old is favourite to succeed Bellamy.

The 37-times capped international first skippered Wales in their final 2010 World Cup qualifying win in Liechtenstein in September 2009 as a stand-in for the injured Bellamy.

Speed's first game as Wales boss is their Four Nations opener with the Republic of Ireland before their next 2012 European Championship qualifier with England in Cardiff on 26 March.

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see also
Speed offers Giggs Wales chance
05 Jan 11 |  Welsh
Gabbidon considering Wales return
06 Jan 11 |  Welsh
Williams desires Wales captaincy
29 Dec 10 |  Welsh
Bellamy hands on Wales captaincy
26 Dec 10 |  Cardiff
Speed plans Bellamy captain talks
15 Dec 10 |  Welsh
Wales unveil Speed as new manager
14 Dec 10 |  Welsh
Bellamy to lead Wales after Giggs
31 May 07 |  Internationals
Wales' international fixtures
22 Aug 07 |  Welsh
Wales' results archive
10 Oct 05 |  Welsh
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales

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