Coleman will not rest Bale from China trip
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