Newcatle manager Sir Bobby Robson has revealed that he received hate mail after he refused permission for Craig Bellamy to travel with the Wales party for yesterday’s EURO 2004 qualifier in Azerbaijan.
Robson has been advised by the club’s medical staff that becauuse of a knee problem, Bellamy can only play one match a week at the moment. With Newcastle due to face Manchester United and Internazionale in the next seven days, Robson reluctantly withdrew the striker from Wales’ squad to face Azerbaijan.
“I’ve had some unbelievably rude faxes from Wales,” admitted Robson.
“I understand their frustration but they don’t know the facts and they shouldn’t waste our time.
“They’re crucifying us for not letting Craig go, but he’s been out for seven months.
“He wasn’t fit at the start of the season, he’s played and had a reaction, and he’s been away for three weeks getting right again.”
“It’s not a club versus country row,” added Robson, who as former coach of the England national team, is only too aware of such conflicts.
“How many of our players have we let go on international duty this week? Lots.
“It’s a fitness versus selection debate. If he’s not fit then he’s not available and he can’t play – it’s as simple as that.
“I would have loved Mark Hughes to have Craig available.
“He played against Feyenoord but he would have told you himself that hecouldn’t have played against Azerbaijan.”