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European Qualifiers Group B

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European Qualifiers Group B

The middle man

Mark Bowen told Sky Sports that Wales should play Gareth Bale in a central position in order to get the best out of him.

Last Updated: 17/11/13 at 16:31 Post Comment

Bale is shackled by two Finnish players at the Millennium Stadium

Bale is shackled by two Finnish players at the Millennium Stadium

Real Madrid star Bale began his country's Saturday-night friendly with Finland - which ended 1-1 after Riku Riski cancelled out Andy King's opener in stoppage time - on the wing, a spot in which he has frequently demonstrated his pace and power.

But Bowen - part of the Wales coaching staff during Mark Hughes' stint in charge of the Dragons - feels the 23-year-old would be instrumental for his nation in the middle of the park, rather than on the flanks.

However, Bowen - who won 41 caps for Wales as a player - reckons Bale will make a greater impact in a red shirt when he is re-joined by in-form Arsenal man Aaron Ramsey, who missed the clash with the Finns due to flu.

"When Gareth plays wide he gets the ball with his back to the touchline and players double up on him to try and combat his pace," said the former Norwich, Charlton and Tottenham full-back.

"But if you play him centrally there is more space and different areas for him to move into.

"He wasn't at his best against Finland and not involved as much as [Wales manager] Chris Coleman would have liked, but he showed little cameos of the player he is and the player we expect him to become.

"Wales need to get him the ball as quickly as possible so players don't have time to build up a defensive strategy, and hopefully when Ramsey returns they will be able to do that and get the ball into Gareth's feet."

Stepping up

Wales midfielder Joe Allen has not started for Liverpool in the Premier League this term but put in a composed display whilst playing 89 minutes at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday night.

Read our match report here

Bowen reckons the ex-Swansea engine-roomer will improve with games, while he also lavished praise on Wales 'keeper Wayne Hennessey, who pulled off a clutch of impressive saves to keep the Scandinavians at bay.

"Joe could have had an excuse of being rusty but he didn't show that throughout the match," added Bowen, who currently serves as the assistant manager at Stoke.

"He was able to read the opposition's passes, nip in early and stop danger from happening and he knows where to be at the right time.

"Things like that will become even better the more he plays, but full credit to the lad for stepping up to the international stage and performing.

"Wayne, meanwhile, has a load of ability but has struggled with injury over the last few years so it's great to see him back and making fabulous saves."

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