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Wales game is massive - Whelan

Ireland midfielder Glenn Whelan hopes a full-blooded Celtic derby against Wales will provide ideal preparation for next month's vital World Cup qualifiers.

Ireland are firmly in the hunt to progress 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 while Wednesday's game in Cardiff may only be a friendly, 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.

"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," said the Stoke player.

"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 with the right result.

"This is a derby game and we know it will be tough."

Opponents Wales will be without star player Gareth Bale, who will not be risked as he recovers from a foot injury.

Whelan understands Bale reluctance to take any risks, given the prospect of a world-record move from Tottenham to Real Madrid before the transfer window closes.

Speaking before Bale was ruled out of the match, he said: "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.

"But it's up to himself and his manager. I dare say he would like to get a deal done and then play for his country, but if it isn't done, I don't think we'll see him."

Trapattoni's assistant Marco Tardelli believes Bale's absence deprives Wales coach Chris Coleman of one of the world's best players.

"He is a very good player," said the Italian. "At the moment he is up there with (Real forward) 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."

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