Cole­man will not rest Bale from China trip

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Football - By Jeremy Wil­son DEPUTY FOOT­BALL CORRESPONDENT in Paris

Chris Cole­man has stressed that Gareth Bale will travel to Asia with the Wales squad to play in the China Cup in March, pro­vided he has re­cov­ered from the in­juries that are threat­en­ing to de­rail his sea­son.

Bale, said Cole­man, would be “dev­as­tated” at the lat­est set­back that saw him rup­ture part of his left thigh ab­duc­tor dur­ing train­ing with Real Madrid. It fol­lowed a sep­a­rate calf in­jury that had forced him to miss Wales’s de­ci­sive World Cup qual­i­fy­ing de­feat against the Repub­lic of Ire­land.

Although the coach ac­knowl­edged that Bale, now 28, might want to re-eval­u­ate his train­ing sched­ule to min­imise the risk of in­jury, he does not ex­pect any ad­di­tional rest to be at the ex­pense of in­ter­na­tional foot­ball.

“Some play­ers change their sched­ule as they get older,” said Cole­man. “That’s up to him and Real Madrid.

“When he’s with us all our play­ers have dif­fer­ent pro­grammes at dif­fer­ent times of the week be­cause we know what they do with their clubs.

“We have to make sure that we ta­per that in with the way we work.”

Madrid could be in­volved in the quar­ter-fi­nals of the Cham­pi­ons League in the week af­ter Wales play in a mini-tour­na­ment in China that also in­volves Uruguay, the Czech Repub­lic and their hosts. “Hope­fully he gets back be­fore Christ­mas or just af­ter – we’ve got two or three months be­fore the China Cup,” said Cole­man.

“If the play­ers are fit to play for their club, then they are fit to play for us. That is how we look at it. We never take risks.”

Cole­man in­tends to speak with Bale this week­end, when his ad­vice will be sim­ply not to hurry his re­turn.

“The harder you try to get back, you get a set­back,” said Cole­man. “Some­times you have to go through that. He’ll be back. He needs to take his time and not rush him­self.”

With Cole­man ex­pected to stay on for Euro 2020, Wales took the first steps to­wards build­ing for that tour­na­ment even in los­ing 2-0 against France on Fri­day. They fielded an ex­pe­ri­enced team but on 63 min­utes young­sters Ethan Am­padu, Ben Wood­burn and David Brooks all came on to­gether.

Full starts are ex­pected on Tues­day against Panama, when Cole­man will play a much more ex­per­i­men­tal lineup as part of what he has called the “tran­si­tion” that must now take place.

There is par­tic­u­lar ex­cite­ment in Chelsea’s Am­padu and Liver­pool’s Wood­burn but also an aware­ness that Am­padu and Brooks could the­o­ret­i­cally still switch al­le­giance to Eng­land.

Am­padu has been in de­vel­op­men­tal squads with Wales since the age of 12 and Cole­man is con­fi­dent that they will not now be swayed.

“They’re not legally bound to us,” he said. “We ex­plained some years ago to the younger play­ers, we spoke to their par­ents, we ex­plained the path­ways and that’s all we can do.

“There’s noth­ing we can do if any player changes their mind. In foot­ball you shouldn’t be sur­prised by any­thing but I’d be amazed. The play­ers are firmly com­mit­ted to us.”

Na­tional duty: Chris Cole­man (right) wants to pick Gareth Bale (cen­tre) in March

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