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Page last updated at 14:33 GMT, Thursday, 24 March 2011

Wales suffer Gareth Bale injury blow ahead of England

2012 European Championship qualifying Group G - Wales v England
Venue: Millennium Stadium Date: Saturday, 26 March Kick-off: 1500 GMT
Coverage: Full coverage on BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & online, live text commentary online and score updates on BBC Sport website. Live on Sky Sports 1

Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale has been in excellent form for Tottenham this season

Gareth Bale is out of Wales' Euro 2012 qualifier against England at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday after suffering a hamstring injury.

The Football Association of Wales says in a statement the injury was suffered before Bale joined the Wales squad.

The 21-year-old Tottenham Hotspur winger did not train on Wednesday.

"He did the warm up on Tuesday, we took him off and he went for a scan on Wednesday and he had an injury there," said manager Gary Speed.

"It was an injury from last week and we do our utmost here to make sure we look after the players. Gareth is the most important person in this scenario."

The FAW released a statement on Thursday explained the problem with Bale's injury.

It said: "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."

Despite Bale being highlighted as one of the key players in Wales bid to beat England in Cardiff, Speed stressed that he is more interested in the long term rather than the short term benefits of risking him on Saturday.

"The next three and a half years are more important than the next three and a half days," he added.

"We want to be successful and the best way we can be successful is to get our players out on the pitch in the best shape they can be."

Bale has only recently returned to action for Spurs after a six-week lay-off with a back injury.

His absence is a major blow to boss Gary Speed's preparations but a boost to England, who see Bale as one of their main threats.

"Gareth is top class and he can really hurt you - it's a shame at times he is not English," said England striker and Tottenham team-mate Peter Crouch.

Speed had hoped he could unleash "match winners" Bale and Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey on Fabio Capello's side.

Ramsey is fit though and will captain Wales when he features for the first time since suffering a double leg break playing for Arsenal in February 2010.

The 20-year-old started for Arsenal on Saturday in their 2-2 Premier League draw at West Bromwich Albion having had loan spells at Nottingham Forest and Cardiff City during his recovery.

He last played for Wales in the 3-0 friendly win over Scotland in November 2009.

Speed has received better news over defender James Collins, who has been passed fit to face England.

The Aston Villa centre-back who was a candidate for the Welsh captaincy, delayed joining up with the squad as he overcame a calf injury that forced him out of Villa's defeat Wolves on Saturday.

Speed has already lost Sam Ricketts for his first home and first competitive game as the Bolton Wanderers full-back is out for the rest of the season after an Achilles operation.

West Ham United youngster Jack Collison has yet to return from the knee surgery he had in May 2010 to repair cartilage damage and he joins fellow midfielder Dave Edwards, who has a back injury, on the sidelines for this Group G clash.

Nottingham Forest striker Rob Earnshaw is also out with a hamstring injury while and Swansea midfielder Joe Allen is nursing a shoulder knock - but Allen hopes to be passed fit.

Goalkeepers Wayne Hennessey, Boaz Myhill and Lewis Price will battle it out for the number one jersey with Wolves stopper Hennessey preferred in the last outing.

Stoke's Danny Collins and Blackpool's Neal Eardley along with West Ham's Danny Gabbidon, Chris Gunter of Nottingham Forest and Bristol City's Lewin Nyatanga join Swansea duo Ashley Williams and Neil Taylor as Speed's defensive options.

Norwich's Andrew Crofts, Leicester's Andy King, Joe Ledley of Celtic and Blackpool's David Vaughan join Ramsey up for midfield selection.

Reading duo Simon Church and Hal Robson-Kanu join Cardiff City striker Craig Bellamy - on loan from Manchester City - Ched Evans of Sheffield United, Millwall's Steve Morison and Coventry's Freddy Eastwood as the attacking options.

Wales squad to face England: W Hennessey (Wolves), B Myhill (West Brom), L Price (Crystal Palace), D Collins (Stoke City), J Collins (Aston Villa), N Eardley (Blackpool), D Gabbidon (West Ham), C Gunter (N Forest), L Nyatanga (Bristol C), N Taylor (Swansea), A Williams (Swansea), J Allen (Swansea), A Crofts (Norwich), A King (Leicester), J Ledley (Celtic), A Ramsey (Arsenal), D Vaughan (Blackpool), C Bellamy (Cardiff), S Church (Reading), S Vokes (Wolves, on loan at Sheff Utd), C Evans (Sheff Utd), F Eastwood (Coventry), S Morison (Millwall), H Robson-Kanu (Reading).

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see also
Ramsey delight at Wales captaincy
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Wales deputy's Twitter outburst
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Williams eager for England test
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Wales players tuning up for game
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Crowd can help Wales win - Rush
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Memorable Welsh football fixtures
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Welsh football history
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Wales' international fixtures
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BBC Sport Wales coverage
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