Club versus country row looming

Last updated : 14 November 2002 By Martyn Elliott

The Welsh wizard put in a stunning display against Feyenoord on his return from injury, but surgeon Dr Richard Steadman has advised him to play only play once a week while he gets his fitness back.

Bellamy already looks set to miss the Premiership clash with Southampton and if he played for Wales he would probably miss our trip to Old Trafford on November 23.

Sir Bobby told BBC Radio Newcastle: "We have waited patiently for Craig and spent a lot of money on him to get him right.

"He responded to that quite magnificently on Wednesday but we have to take care of the boy.

"The advice we have been given is that he should play one game per week until it has settled down and Craig is sure about it.

"I have to make a decision for Saturday's game with Southampton, and it could be we think of using him as a substitute.

"We have warned the Welsh FA about his situation and we wouldn't expect him to travel or to play next Wednesday in all honesty. That would be my feeling."

Sir Bobby does though recognise that the situation puts Bellamy in a very difficult position, adding: "The Manchester game is a terrific one for us and that is one our surgeon says he can play in, and we would want him to play in.

"I know Wales are playing a competitive match so we are torn between helping them and looking after our own interests as well."

The situation may yet be avoided though with some press reports suggesting that the international match may be cancelled, as a financial dispute may mean that Azerbaijan will have no stadium to play in and no players available from the country’s top clubs.

There was good news about Bellamy’s injury though with Sir Bobby confirming: "I have spoken to Craig and there is no inflammation and it is pain-free, which is a relief."

View our head-to-head record with Southampton