Bellamy focuses on fitness

Craig Bellamy has said it is in the best interests of everyone that he does not join up with Wales for their World Cup qualifiers as he continues his comeback from a hamstring injury.

The striker returned to action off the bench for West Ham United on Saturday, scoring a fantastic late goal in the 4-1 victory against Blackburn Rovers, but is still undergoing rehabilitation on the injury he picked up at the end of a prolific pre-season. While disappointed not to be linking up with his country, Bellamy is aiming to be available for the next set of qualifiers in October. By then, he hopes to have had plenty of Premier League match action under his belt for the club.

Bellamy added that the decision not to take part in Wales' matches against Azerbaijan and Russia next Saturday and Wednesday respectively was mutually agreed by all parties. "Myself, West Ham and Wales all discussed what was the right thing to do and we all agreed that it would be best for me to stay back here at West Ham and continue my recovery from the hamstring injury," he said.

"There was no problem on anyone's part and we all shared the same view that it was best I stayed here at West Ham. In the build-up to the game on Saturday, the hamstring was a bit tight and that was why I only played 20 minutes of the game. It still felt a little tight again after the match and so this week, I will be carrying on with more rehab work to make sure I am completely recovered.

"After working so hard to come back this summer, I didn't want to risk breaking down again because I had come back too soon." While delighted to have been able to play a part in the match against Blackburn on Saturday and get back on the scoresheet, Bellamy explained he was not yet back to full fitness and said it would be of no benefit to himself, his club or country if he travelled to play in the internationals this week.

"No one can question my commitment to Wales - as I said, I don't want to be missing what are two crucial games for my country, and I am confident I will be available for selection for the next set of matches in October. Having missed so much of the season last year for West Ham and Wales, it is best that I stay here at the training ground and keep on with the rehab work. At this stage of my career, I want to be able to play to the best of my abilities and give my all and for that, I need to be fully fit."