March 24, 2011

CARDIFF, Wales (AP) -- Wales winger Gareth Bale will miss Saturday's European Championship qualifier with England due to a hamstring injury, dealing a major blow to the team's chances of a win over its fierce rival.

The Welsh FA said Thursday that Bale "felt some muscle tightness'' after playing for Tottenham against West Ham in the Premier League on Saturday, his first full match since returning from a back injury that had kept him sidelined for a month.

Bale sat out training at the start of this week and was pulled out of a session on Tuesday after feeling tight in the warmup.

A scan Thursday ruled out the 21-year-old Bale, depriving Wales of its best player as the team looks to register its first point in qualifying in Group G.

Bale has been one of the star performers in this season's Champions League, scoring a hat trick in Tottenham's 4-3 loss at Inter Milan in the group stage and running rings around the Italian side's defense in the return match at White Hart Lane.

England coach Fabio Capello said last week that Bale "is today the No. 1 player in the world.''

Bale will return to Tottenham for assessment, with the club's next game not until April 2 when it visits Wigan.

The first leg of Tottenham's Champions League quarterfinal series against Real Madrid is on April 5 at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

Wales is last in Group G after losing its opening three games. England is second with seven points from three matches and will go top on goal difference, above surprise leader Montenegro, with a victory at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

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