Chris Coleman says Gareth Bale move no distraction

Wales manager Chris Coleman insists the attention surrounding Gareth Bale has not been a distraction ahead of tonight’s friendly against the Republic of Ireland.

Chris Coleman says the intense speculation over Gareth Bale is not a distraction. Picture: PA
Chris Coleman says the intense speculation over Gareth Bale is not a distraction. Picture: PA

All the build-up to the Cardiff City Stadium clash has focused on the Tottenham winger, with Real Madrid reportedly ready to pay a world-record transfer fee of up to £105million to secure his services.

Wales’ open training on Monday in Newport was attended by a far greater number of fans and media than usual, with members of the Spanish press also in attendance. The 24-year-old eventually trained on his own, and he will not feature against the Irish due to a foot injury.

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Coleman faced plenty of further questions on Bale yesterday but insisted: “We have just got on with our work, we have to concentrate and he trained alone anyway, so we just got on with our own preparations.”

Coleman was keen to point out that the final decision over Bale’s lack of availability for the fixture was down to Wales, and not Tottenham. He said: “Looking at his history over the last two or three weeks his workload has not been good at all. So for him to go into an international against a tough team like Ireland would be dangerous.

“We respect Tottenham and have a good relationship with them and we decided before he got here that it was too much of a risk. We are not here to get in the way but, if he had a chance of playing tomorrow, he would have played.

“It would not have been in the back of my mind – if he had played and anything happened – that he was on the verge of a big move. My job is to win games with Wales. I haven’t thought twice about his move. He is not playing because, physically, he is not ready, not because he is not mentally ready.”

Tonight’s meeting with the Republic comes ahead of World Cup qualifiers against Macedonia and Serbia next month.

Welsh hopes of advancing from Group A are effectively over despite their two wins over Scotland but Coleman knows a strong run of form over the next few months will boost hopes ahead of qualifying for an expanded Euro 2016.

He said: “In our current group the top two seeds are first and second. We were sixth seeds coming in but there was pressure on us to qualify, but that’s how it is. We now have to top the rest of the group. If we finish third we have made a lot of ground and it puts us in a good position for the Euros.”