BLACKBURN Rovers midfielder Robbie Savage today said John Toshack has done him a favour by calling time on his international career.

The former Birmingham star, who is hoping to return for Blackburn against Liverpool tomorrow, has finally given up trying to win his place back in the Wales squad - almost a year to the day since he won the last of his 39 caps for his country.

Savage was originally axed from the squad after openly criticising Toshack's appointment in the media and, despite various attempts to rebuild the bridges, he has not been recalled since.

Now he's come to terms with the fact his international career is over and he reckons Rovers are about to reap the benefits of his enforced exile because he's free to devote all his energies to his club career.

The 30-year-old said: "I've accepted it now. When I look back I got 39 caps, I played for one of the best teams Wales has ever had, we had a great team spirit and a great manager so everything was good.

"But now I'm out of it, maybe I don't really want to be travelling all over the world and not always getting a game or finding it difficult for 90 minutes against opposition that might be better than you, only to then come back here and find that you're feeling tired and lethargic on a Saturday.

"The good thing is I can keep myself fresh for Blackburn now so hopefully John Toshack has helped me to prolong my Premiership career.

"If he has then I thank him for that."

While Wales have been involved in World Cup qualifiers against Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan over the space of the last 10 days, Savage has used the international break as an opportunity to work on his fitness in the gym at Blackburn.

And he now feels fitter and fresher than he has for some time as he prepares for a run of Premiership fixtures that includes tough away trips to Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal in the next six weeks.

He said: "For the last 10 years of my life, I've always been away for seven to 10 days on international duty and it's funny suddenly being around here when the internationals are on.

"There might only be a few of you here but hopefully I can start to reap the rewards because during this break, for instance, I've had time to strengthen my groin, which gave me problems last season.

"I've worked hard in the gym and it's been a good chance to get rid of any little niggles.

"But if I was away then that wouldn't have happened so I guess I owe a big thanks to Tosh."

Meanwhile, Savage reckons Rovers can mount a charge for Europe this season providing his former Welsh team-mate Craig Bellamy stays fit.

Bellamy has been a revelation since he joined the club from Newcastle in a £4 million deal in the summer.

And Savage believes Rovers' fate depends entirely on how the speedy striker performs over the next seven months.

"I've known Craig for a long time and I've got to be honest I didn't think we'd get him in the summer," said Savage.

"I'm not being disrespectful to anyone by saying that but it's a massive coup for us and I think he's the difference between us being in the bottom half and maybe challenging for a place in the top eight.

"You could see it at Old Trafford. He frightens the life out of people with his pace.

"On top of that, he always demands the best out of people, whether that's in a game or in training, so he's a top man and he can be the difference for us."