Church: Bellamy is a big loss to Wales

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Simon Church admits the absence of Craig Bellamy leaves a big void in the Wales side but is determined to make the most of it.

The 21-year-old Reading forward is set to partner Sheffield United's Ched Evans in a youthful Wales front line in the international friendly against Sweden in Swansea after Bellamy has been surprisingly overlooked for the fixture as manager John Toshack tests different options ahead of the start of the Euro 2012 qualifiers next season.

Church, who scored on his last international outing against Scotland in November, said: "Craig is a great player and a good leader for us. He will be missed quite a lot but it is definitely a chance for a few of us to show what we can do."

He added: "They are massive shoes to fill but I don't look at it like that. It is just a chance for me to go out there and progress.

"We played together in the Under-21s - me, Ched and Vokesy [Sam Vokes] - and these games are vital for how we click together.

"It is a great privilege every time I go out to play international football.

"It is a great chance and hopefully I will take that, but it is going to be a tough game."

In Bellamy's absence, the side will be led at the Liberty Stadium by Aston Villa defender James Collins.

The 26-year-old captained the team against Liechtenstein in October but then missed the 3-0 defeat of Scotland through injury. Collins is looking forward to the assignment but feels a relatively young team are growing in maturity.

He said: "It is a job I relish doing. I love playing for Wales whether I'm captain or not but to captain the team is a massive bonus."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Craig Bellamy
Simon Church

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