Belfast Telegraph

Gareth Bale to avoid Republic of Ireland match as Real Madrid deal awaits

By Andrew Gwilym

Tottenham winger Gareth Bale will not feature for Wales in tomorrow's friendly against the Republic of Ireland in Cardiff.

The 24-year-old trained on his own at Wales' Newport base yesterday afternoon but his fitness will not be risked as he recovers from a foot injury.

Bale, who has not played for Spurs in nearly a month, has been widely linked with a world record transfer to Real Madrid or Manchester United.

Bale was understood to be concerned at doing further damage to his foot with the move potentially on the horizon, and an FAW spokesman confirmed he will not be in Chris Coleman's matchday plans.

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas had said last weekend he did not expect Bale to be fit for the north London club's Barclays Premier League opener against Crystal Palace on Sunday, but the winger travelled to south Wales to meet up with his international team-mates yesterday morning.

Despite being unavailable to play the Republic of Ireland, Spurs are happy for Bale to remain in camp with Wales where he will continue to train and will be in the stands at Cardiff City Stadium on tomorrow evening. The Republic's assistant manager Marco Tardelli now believes Bale risks losing the respect of his team-mates due to his absence.

When asked about Bale, Tardelli replied: "If he wants the respect of the other players he must play.

"He is a very good player, at the moment he is up there with Cristiano Ronaldo and players of that calibre, and we saw this with what he did for Tottenham last season."

Of the reported £105million fee Real are ready to splash out on Bale, Tardelli added: "Times change but maybe in my time Diego Maradona may have been (worth that much).

"I don't know if Bale is worth that much but if someone pays it that is his value."

But Stoke midfielder Glenn Whelan is not surprised Bale will give this match a miss.

He said: "I didn't think he would play. He has got a big-money move lined up.

"No one knows if it is on or off but if I was Gareth I would maybe be a little wary of playing before any deal is made."

Bale is the third player that has been ruled out for Wales. Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey and West Ham defender James Collins have withdrawn from the squad with ankle and knee injuries respectively. Swansea full-back Jazz Richards and Brighton midfielder Andrew Crofts have been called up as replacements.

While nearly all of the pre-match focus has been on Bale, the Republic have important goals of their own to focus on.

They are firmly in the hunt for World Cup qualification from Group C, and are part of a three-strong group, along with Sweden and Austria, level on points behind leaders Germany.

Next month sees Giovanni Trapattoni's team face the Swedes and Austrians in two games which could define their campaign.

And Whelan knows it is vital to continue a good run of form which has seen them lose just once in 2013, to World and European champions Spain.

He said: "It is massive for us, we have gone on a good run and we need to keep that confidence going as we have got two big games next month. We put in a good performance against Spain, even though we lost, and everyone knows how friendlies can help build confidence, so we want a good result on Wednesday.

"We have a few new players around the squad but they want to prove they can do a job on the big stage and we want to go into those games next month on a good performance and the right result."

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