Speed optimistic despite Bale loss

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Wales manager Gary Speed remains confident of springing a surprise against England despite the loss of star player Gareth Bale.

Tottenham winger Bale has been ruled out of Saturday's Euro 2012 qualifier at the Millennium Stadium with a hamstring injury. That is a major blow for Speed ahead of his first competitive international in charge, but he is still eagerly anticipating the game.

Speed said: "We know it is going to be difficult, England are full of good players. We are not going to say we are going to win it, but we believe we can."

He added: "We have got to be right and if the players play like they have trained this week, we have got a really good chance. There is no doubt about that.

"We have many good players in this squad and, at the end of the day, it is about the team and not one individual.

"One player cannot win you a game, the team does. It's a blow (losing Bale), but it's not the end of the world."

Reports Bale would not be fit first emerged on Thursday morning, but Wales were quick to stress the player suffered his injury prior to joining up with the squad. Speed revealed the 21-year-old had not trained since his arrival in Cardiff, aside from warming up on Tuesday, and rubbished suggestions he had pulled up during one of his sessions.

A club-versus-country row threatened to break out after Speed's assistant Raymond Verheijen referred to "incompetent amateurs" in a tweet about the situation, which was interpreted in some quarters as a criticism of Tottenham's medical staff.

Speed admitted that had caused an "unnecessary problem", but it had been cleared up because Verheijen was aiming the jibe at inaccurate reporters.

Speed said: "I can understand it might be portrayed that it was (aimed at Spurs), but the fact it was reported Gareth did his hamstring in training, when he didn't train, was the incompetent bit."

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Tottenham Hotspur
Gary Speed
Premier League
Cardiff City
Gareth Bale

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