Tosh fears in­juries will force Bale out of Real

Western Mail - - SPORT -

For­mer Wales man­ager John Toshack says re­cent in­juries could cost Gareth Bale his Real Madrid fu­ture, writes Tom Cole­man.

The 28-year-old has been the sub­ject of fer­vent spec­u­la­tion over the last few months, with Manch­ester United one of the clubs fre­quently linked with a move for Bale over the sum­mer.

De­spite the Welsh­man of­ten feel­ing the wrath of Real’s overly-de­mand­ing fans, boss Zine­dine Zi­dane has in­sisted that Bale is not for sale, even go­ing so far as to call him a “com­plete player” fol­low­ing his stun­ning goal against Real So­ciedad.

Nev­er­the­less, Bale’s re­cent in­jury record has been a con­cern, with the Welsh­man re­stricted to just 19 league ap­pear­ances last sea­son.

His lat­est calf prob­lem saw him miss Wales’ cru­cial World Cup qual­i­fiers against Ge­or­gia and Ire­land and re­ports sug­gest he is un­likely to re­turn to first team ac­tion un­til the start of Novem­ber — which would po­ten­tially rule him out of games against Getafe, Tot­ten­ham, Eibar, Fuen­labrada and Girona.

It is the 18th in­jury Bale has suf­fered since ar­riv­ing at the Bern­abeu just over four years ago, and Toshack, who twice man­aged Los Blan­cos and handed the winger his in­ter­na­tional de­but, be­lieves such per­sis­tent set­backs are putting Bale’s ca­reer in the Span­ish cap­i­tal at risk.

He told El Lar­guero: “His in­juries are prob­a­bly hin­der­ing him now.

“He has missed so many matches and de­spite Madrid win­ning so many matches and tro­phies, it must be hugely frus­trat­ing.

“Should he move to an­other club? Only peo­ple at Madrid will know about this but the de­mands at the Bern­abeu are very, very high.

“If you are less than 100 per cent phys­i­cally fit, it be­comes even harder.

“He is now 28 and 11 years after mak­ing his de­but with me at 17, these should be the best years of his life.

“The en­tire BBC (Bale, Ben­zema, Cris­tiano) now has prob­lems and for var­i­ous rea­sons, such as oth­ers now com­ing through, I’m un­sure we’ll see much more of them to­gether from now on.”

The for­mer Liver­pool striker is not the only Welsh le­gend to have no­ticed Bale’s in­jury strug­gles.

In a re­cent col­umn for Sky Sports, for­mer Manch­ester United winger Ryan Giggs even sug­gested that Bale should con­sider chang­ing his game in or­der to keep in­juries to a min­i­mum and stay at the top of the world game.

Giggs said: “When you look at Bale and the phys­i­cal spec­i­men he is, he is al­ways go­ing to be putting his body un­der pres­sure.

“Es­pe­cially with the sort of chal­lenges he comes up against from other play­ers.

“With the in­juries he has had and at the stage of his ca­reer, this is when you need to start ad­dress­ing it. When you get to your late 20s it hits home that you need to start mak­ing changes.

“Ev­ery­one is dif­fer­ent and I tried to cover every base with yoga, acupunc­ture, ice baths, but what might work for some play­ers might not for oth­ers.

“You also have to adapt your game. You can’t play in your late 20s like you did when you were 19, but that ex­pe­ri­ence means your brain is quicker and you can be more eco­nom­i­cal yet more ef­fec­tive.

“I was def­i­nitely more ef­fec­tive in games in my late 20s even if I wasn’t as quick.”

> Gareth Bale in re­cent Cham­pi­ons League ac­tion against Dort­mund

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