Collins facing year on sidelines
Hammers defender suffers more injury woe
By Chris Burton. Last Updated: 28/01/08 4:22pm
Collins: Distraught by news
West Ham and Wales defender James Collins has been ruled out for a year with severe ligament damage.
Collins had only recently shaken off a groin problem, but will now be facing another spell on the sidelines after picking up the injury during a Hammers reserve game with Portsmouth last week.
The swelling around the injury is thought to be so bad at present that an operation will not be possible until mid-February, with at least six months of rehabilitation then required after undergoing surgery.
As a result, Collins has been ruled out for the remainder of West Ham's Premier League campaign as well as Wales' upcoming fixtures.
The news comes as a blow to Wales boss John Toshack who will already be without Gareth Bale for next Wednesday's friendly with Norway and could have to cope without West Ham duo Danny Gabbidon and Craig Bellamy as the pair continue their recovery from recent injuries.
"This is a terrible blow for us, but we are more concerned about James. He is absolutely distraught," said Toshack.
"We have suffered these sorts of major injuries now for over three years, when one gets fit another seems to be injured.
"But losing James at this stage with our World Cup games coming up next season, is a really terrible blow.
"We have a squad full of very young players and at 24, James is approaching a time in his career when he can be a major influence on our side.
"We are talking about a future Wales captain here, and this is a blow to all concerned."
On the chances of Bellamy and Gabbidon being able to feature against Norway, Toshack remains confident that the pair can get enough football under their belts before the squad is due to meet up on Sunday.
"West Ham have assured us all they need is competitive matches to get their fitness back, and we will hope that by the time the Norway game comes around they will have played another match or two," he said,
"West Ham have another reserve game this week and two league matches before we all meet up."
Wales squad v Norway
Toshack has named the following 24-man squad for the game at the Racecourse Ground:
Squad: Hennessey (Wolves), Price (Derby), Eardley (Oldham), Gunter (Tottenham), Gabbidon (West Ham), Morgan (Peterborough), Evans (Wrexham), Nyatanga (Derby), Ricketts (Hull), Ledley (Cardiff), Davies (Fulham), Davies (Nottm For), Fletcher (Crystal Palace), Robinson (Toronto), Crofts (Gillingham), Vaughan (Real Sociedad), D Edwards (Wolves), Koumas (Wigan), Bellamy (West Ham), Eastwood (Wolves), Davies (Oldham), Easter (Plymouth), Earnshaw (Derby), Cotterill (Wigan).