Oh dear: Bale ruled out for crucial final Wales qualifiers

Date published: Tuesday 3rd October 2017 10:10

Gareth Bale has been ruled out of Wales’ final two World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and the Republic of Ireland.

Bale’s fitness has been a source of concern for Wales since he suffered a calf muscle strain against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League last week.

The 28-year-old missed Real Madrid’s LaLiga clash with Espanyol on Sunday night but reported to the Wales camp the following morning.

Bale attended the FAW Awards on Monday night but will not be fit enough to play in the two qualifiers which will determine Wales’ World Cup ambitions.

Real boss Zinedine Zidane reported last weekend that Bale was suffering from “muscle fatigue”, but added it was “nothing important”.

“He could have played with us (against Espanyol) but I preferred to leave him out as he had a small complaint,” Zidane said on Sunday.

“He’s fine. After so many games at the start of the season and four months of injury, he was suffering after the game in Dortmund.”

But Bale has felt enough discomfort to withdraw from the Georgia game in Tbilisi on Friday and the visit of the Republic to Cardiff three days later.

Wales are currently in second place in Group D, four points behind leaders Serbia and one point above the Republic.

Two wins are likely to guarantee them at least a place in next month’s play-offs.

Bale’s absence could open the door for Liverpool teenager Ben Woodburn to make his first Wales start.

The 17-year-old made a dramatic introduction last month when he scored the winner within five minutes of coming on as a second-half substitute against Austria.

Three days later Woodburn made another huge impact from the bench when he set up the first goal in Wales’ 2-0 win in Moldova.

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