Wales captain Craig Bellamy has been ruled out of tonight's 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier against Germany at the Millennium Stadium with a knee injury.

The Manchester City striker has been struggling with a knee injury for the past month and had returned to his club for treatment. Robert Earnshaw has now asked by John Toshack, the Wales manager, to lead the attack in Bellamy's absence against Europe zone group four leaders Germany.

Last weekend's 2-0 loss at home to Finland left Wales struggling to claim even a play-off for next year's FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa. Afterwards, a dejected Bellamy said: "That was two poor sides trying to contest this game and neither of us have got a glimmer of hope of qualifying.

"That is a fact, from what I've just seen today. Where we go from here, God knows. We've just got a lot of games to play and get as many points as we can but same old story, we're out of the group."

However, an FAW spokesman insisted Bellamy's comments had no bearing on his absence from the team to play Germany. "Craig has difficulty playing two games in five days and, although we have tried to keep this quiet, he returned to his club today."

Wales have not qualified for the finals of a major football tournament since the 1958 FIFA World Cup.