Strachan hits back
Gordon Strachan has hit back at Pim Verbeek over Rhys Williams' absence from the World Cup.
Last Updated: 02/06/10 7:30pm
Gordon Strachan has hit back in a row with Australia boss Pim Verbeek over Rhys Williams' absence from the World Cup.
Verbeek culled the player from his World Cup squad on Wednesday, criticising both Middlesbrough and manager Strachan for the way they handled his ongoing pelvic condition.
The Australia boss claimed in the Sydney Morning Herald that the player would have made the finals if he had received 'normal' treatment.
He said: "Gordon Strachan let him play with an injection every game. If you do that with a 20-year-old player, you take a risk.
"I'm 100 per cent sure if they [Middlesbrough] had given him the normal treatment for a player, he should be in the World Cup."
But Strachan has furiously denied the allegation, saying: "We as a club and I personally strongly object to being made scapegoats by Mr Verbeek.
"I know it's a stressful time for him, but he needs to get his facts right.
"First of all, I should point out that decisions over injuries are made by the club's medical staff, not me, but it is nonsense to suggest Rhys was receiving injections for every game.
"The truth of the matter is we only ever did what we believed was right for the player's long-term future, and he only played when he and our medical team agreed he was fit to do so.
"We were advised by a consultant in mid-season that he needed four or five weeks' rest, we actually gave him 10 as he didn't play between December 28 and March 6.
"He only ever had two injections into the problem area, both of which were taken on the advice of a surgeon for the player's long-term benefit.
"On each occasion he was given adequate rest afterwards. We were always conscious of the World Cup and the fact that Rhys would want to be involved.
"We gave him every opportunity to recover from his injury in mid-season. After that, each time Rhys played it was because he himself was happy to play.
"Mr Verbeek told us he was happy with the player's performances for the club and the Australia physio guaranteed me Rhys would be fit for their first game.
"We are all disappointed for Rhys that he has missed out, but he is a talented lad and I'm sure there will be other opportunities in future.
"The fact he isn't fully fit is very unfortunate, but it's simply wrong to try to lay the blame at our door."
Strachan's defence was also supported by Grant Downie, head of the medical department at the club.
Downie said: "Neither Middlesbrough Football Club nor the medical department that I lead would ever do anything to endanger a player's health.
"We have always taken the best actions for the player and will continue do so as Rhys moves back to full fitness.
"At present, he continues to suffer from the ongoing problem and this will now need a further period of rest and rehabilitation."