Chris Coleman wants Craig Bellamy to extend Wales career

Craig Bellamy
Craig Bellamy has scored 19 goals in his 67 Wales international caps

Wales manager Chris Coleman hopes to persuade Craig Bellamy to extend his Wales career until the end of the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.

The Liverpool striker was in fine form when Wales enjoyed a run of four wins from five games before the death of then manager Gary Speed in November.

Bellamy had a close relationship with Speed, which led to him scrapping plans for international retirement.

"Craig came back for Gary, I understand that, not for me," said Coleman.

"Maybe he doesn't want to come back for me as I'm different to Gary. I don't take that personally.

"It is Craig's decision and I respect that. I'll try and convince him to stay because he still has something to offer. I hope he will stay."

Coleman was named as Speed's successor on Thursday as the 41-year-old was handed a contract through to the end of the .

The former Fulham manager has already had a brief discussion with Bellamy, 32, who scored in the 4-1 win over Norway, Speed's last game in charge.

Coleman will take charge of Wales for the first time when they host Costa Rica in Cardiff on 29 February in a memorial match for Speed, where the new Wales manager will take a "background" role.

Coleman hopes Bellamy will remain involved in the national side as they go in search of a first place at a major finals since the 1958 World Cup.

"I need to speak to him first," said Coleman.

"We need Craig Bellamy, not just because of his ability but also because of his mentality. He can be demanding and difficult but also he wants things done right and sometimes that pushes people in the right direction, so I hope he stays.

"I have never been involved in a winning team where everybody loved everybody else to pieces. That's about winning. You don't have to like each other.

"He is someone as a player I respect and it is up to me to try and convince him. But I can't physically drive to Liverpool, stick him in the back of my car and bring him down to perform for us."

Although Coleman would like Bellamy to add to his 67 caps, he believes he has enough talent to launch a genuine bid to qualify for the 2014 finals in Brazil, having been drawn with Croatia, Serbia, Belgium, Scotland and Macedonia in World Cup qualifying Group A.

Ashley Williams, Joe Allen, Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale all turned in a series of eye-catching displays under Speed while Steve Morison, Neil Taylor and Wayne Hennessey are all performing well in the Premier League.

"The last five games, including England where they lost narrowly, all the signs are there," said Coleman.

"We are in a tough group. It's not easy. It doesn't mean just because we have won four games we are going to be odds-on favourites. But we have a chance to do something big.

"Belgium and other teams will be looking at what we have done recently and paying us more respect, and so they should.

"We have players doing well in the Premier League and that puts us in a good position."

Top Stories