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Williams out for depleted Wales
Manager Chris Coleman has seen his decimated Wales squad lose another key player to injury after captain Ashley Williams was ruled out of the World Cup qualifiers against Macedonia and Belgium with an ankle injury.
Williams had long been a doubt for the double-header due to his ankle ligament injury and Swansea manager Michael Laudrup had made it clear the defender needed a rest.
But, with his squad so severely hit by withdrawals, Coleman would have wanted to field the 29-year-old if possible.
However, the result of a scan on the problem has seen him ruled out, and a Football Association of Wales (FAW) spokesman confirmed to Press Association Sport that Williams would return to his club.
It means Coleman is now without 10 of the 23-man squad he named last week as he prepares for two games which could decide his future.
Real Madrid's Gareth Bale, Liverpool's Joe Allen, Celtic midfielder Joe Ledley and Brighton's Andrew Crofts were all withdrawn on the day of Thursday's squad announcement, with the quintet of Adam Matthews, Ben Davies, Danny Gabbidon, Sam Ricketts and Jack Collison following on Monday.
Coleman responded by calling in nine replacements in the form of Lloyd Isgrove, Owain Tudur Jones, Danny Alfei, James Wilson, Rhoys Wiggins, Jermaine Easter, Shaun MacDonald, David Cotterill and Jazz Richards.
But the loss of Williams leaves him with painfully few centre-half options, with Chris Gunter and Tudur Jones, normally a midfielder and last capped in May 2011, currently tipped to start against Macedonia at Cardiff City Stadium on Friday.
James Collins would be the obvious candidate to be called into the squad, but his dispute with Coleman over whether or not he rejected the chance to play for his country last month, mean the West Ham defender is highly unlikely to get a call.
Wales are currently propping up Group A, having collected just six points from eight games, and there is considerable speculation about Coleman's future as national team boss.
The former Fulham manager had verbally agreed terms on a two-year contract extension prior to last month's defeats to Macedonia and Serbia, but the deal remains unsigned, with the FAW wanting to evaluate performances over the final two World Cup qualifiers.