Wales manager Chris Coleman has told their World Cup qualification rivals to beware of an improved Gareth Bale.
Wales start out on the road to Russia at home to Moldova on Monday, with the nation still on a high after reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2016.
Bale played a pivotal role in that success by scoring seven times in qualifying and then becoming the first player for 12 years to score in all three group games of a European Championship.
But Wales boss Coleman says the Real Madrid forward continues to improve – and that spells bad news for 2018 World Cup qualifying opponents Austria, Serbia, the Republic of Ireland, Moldova and Georgia.
“Gareth scored inside 75 seconds of Real’s first game of the season, but I never get surprised by him,” said Coleman.
“I know he’s capable of almost anything and I think Madrid are very excited about the future with ‘Baleo’.
“They recognise that they’ve got someone who’s going to be there for a while and someone who is capable of winning everything.
“He’s getting better and better still.
“Along with that incredible ability he’s got that first-class mentality as well.
— Wales (@FAWales) September 2, 2016
“It’s winning formula for Real Madrid and for Wales, and I think he will have another good season.”
Wales are without two of their Euro 2016 heroes as Aaron Ramsey, who was magnificent in France, and Jonathan Williams are both injured.
But Coleman expects Emyr Huws and Tom Lawrence, two players overlooked for summer selection, to play their parts during this World Cup campaign.
Huws lost out on the final midfield spot to David Vaughan, who has since retired from international football, while Lawrence could not shift striker Simon Church from the squad.
“They are two good young players and I do expect them to step up and make an impact,” said Coleman.
“Emyr was disappointed not to make the squad and it was really close for him.
“Tom has had a little taste of campaign football (at the end of Euro 2016 qualifying).
“It’s difficult when you’re young and you’re not playing for your club. We’re mindful of that, but they can do well for us.”
Back-up goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams will be in reserve on Monday with Wayne Hennessey having recovered from the leg injury which forced him to miss Crystal Palace’s 1-1 Premier League draw with Bournemouth.
But Fon Williams says it has been business as usual after England manager Sam Allardyce persuaded goalkeeping coach Martyn Margetson to leave Wales and join his backroom staff.
Allardyce worked with Margetson at West Ham, but Coleman moved quickly to replace him by drafting in Swansea goalkeeping coach Tony Roberts.
“‘Marge’ was with us for a long time and he was unbelievable with all the goalkeepers, he looked after us so well,” said Fon Williams.
“He has worked with the England manager before and there was always a danger that he would he come calling.
“But Tony has come in and we’ve all enjoyed working with him the last few days.”