United hit back in Bellamy row

Last updated : 03 September 2003 By Martyn Elliott

Angered by the FAW’s refusal to take the club’s position into consideration when deciding whether or not Bellamy plays against Italy on Saturday, Cushing has promised to everything in his action to prevent it happening.

“Wales must expect that we will fight tooth and nail on this,” he said. “We must protect the interests of both the club and the player to the fullest extent.

“And the statement from Welsh manager Mark Hughes on Sky Sports that he is ‘prepared to risk striker Craig Bellamy in the Euro 2004 qualifier against Italy on Saturday against the wishes of Newcastle boss Sir Bobby Robson’ is disgraceful and is a clear verbal indicator of his total lack of respect or concern for the future well-being of the player and the future relationship of the club and his employers.”

Unfortunately all the regulations about players appearing in internationals are stacked in favour of the national associations, so there is little Cushing can do.

And if Bellamy returns with his knee injury aggravated there will also be no action we can take, because of a FIFA rule that prevents clubs taking legal action against national associations. Although it would be interesting to see if that would stand up in a court of law.

Once again though it is perhaps Sir Bobby who is the voice of reason in this episode, and as a former international manager he obviously understands both sides of the argument.

"It's a delicate decision and can only be made by one person - Craig Bellamy. After all, he knows his body better than anyone,” he said.

"I wonder how he can play for Wales without a game under his belt or without any proper training.

"What I would say to Craig Bellamy is that if you are 100 per cent fit then go and play for your country, son. But if you are not 100 per cent, and I mean 100 per cent, then don't take the chance."

Although it seems unlikely that Bellamy will choose to pull out of the biggest match of his international career.