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Saturday 16 December 2017

Welsh concern over Bale

Zinedine Zidane shakes hands with Gareth Bale after he is substituted last Tuesday. Photo: Wolfgang Rattay
Zinedine Zidane shakes hands with Gareth Bale after he is substituted last Tuesday. Photo: Wolfgang Rattay

Wales boss Chris Coleman has worries over the fitness of talisman Gareth Bale ahead of the key World Cup dates, including their qualifier at home to Ireland.

Forty eight hours after Martin O'Neill picked his 32-man squad for the qualifiers against Molodva and Wales, Coleman was tasked with naming his own panel for the tussle with Georgia and then that sold-out Cardiff date with Ireland.

One name stood out from an Irish viewpoint as Chelsea youngster Ethan Ampadu was promoted to the Welsh senior squad: the 17-year-old, who made his first-team debut for Chelsea last week, is also eligible for Ireland as his dad Kwame, currently a youth team coach with Arsenal, is a Dubliner who won youth and U21 caps for the Republic.

Bringing in Ethan at this early stage in his career, as Wales also did with Ben Woodburn, is clearly an attempt to fend off interest in Ampadu from Ireland and Woodburn from England.

Ampadu is unlikely to play against Georgia or Ireland but Coleman can only hope that reports from Spain about an injury to Bale, picked up in Real Madrid's midweek Champions League game, are only scare stories.

Bale scored in the win over Borussia Dortmund but has since been assessed by the club's medical staff and he is a doubt for Real's weekend clash with Espanyol.

WALES (Squad) - Goalkeepers: Wayne Hennessey, Danny Ward, Chris Maxwell. Defenders: Ben Davies, James Chester, Neil Taylor, Chris Gunter, Tom Lockyer, Ashley Williams, Ethan Ampadu. Midfielders: Joe Allen, David Edwards, Andy King, Joe Ledley, Aaron Ramsey, Jonathan Williams, David Brooks. Forwards: Gareth Bale, Marley Watkins, Hal Robson-Kanu, Sam Vokes, Tom Lawrence, Ben Woodburn.

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