Chris Coleman’s Wales side are facing a battle to emerge from their World Cup qualifying group with efforts to repeat their brilliance at Euro 2016 looking narrow.
Gareth Bale has been central to this effort. A galactico in his own right since his move to Spain in 2012, he was influential during the campaign in 2016 which saw wales run to the semi-finals. But now, just when Wales need him the most, he is out.
Bale’s international representatives and his Real Madrid unit are at loggerheads as to where the injury was actually picked up. Both are denying their own responsibility for the Wales number 11 being ruled out of action.
What we do know is that it is a calf injury that sees Bale sidelined, the extent of which is unknown. Both Chris Coleman and Zinedine Zidane are adamant that Bale sustained the injury in the opposite camp, but Zidane insists Bale returned to Spain with merely a swollen hamstring.
What Is The Welsh Plan Now?
Coleman must have been dreading this situation, but he has to address it to ward off any indication that Wales are a hapless force without Bale.
Hal Robson-Kanu has proved able in the past, and Sam Vokes is well established as the muscle at Burnley. Alternatively, Coleman can call on Ben Woodburn to deputise up front.
The Liverpool youngster is considered one of the most exciting players in Welsh football and his scorching winner against Austria last month put him firmly on the international scene.
Though just 17, it may be his raw potency and fearlessness that Coleman can unleash against the Georgians on Friday.
What Are Wales Up Against?
Wales have to go to Tbilisi to play Georgia, before a final qualifying showdown with the Republic of Ireland in Cardiff on October 9th.
Both are not the easiest games to navigate, certainly the Irish are still in with a shout of the runners up spot. Just a point separates them in the final two games.
Shane Long is still running the show up front, with Seamus Coleman now returning and Harry Arter beginning to blossom at Bournemouth. Though without veteran Jon Walters, they do look in fine shape for the final two games they must win.
When Wales and Ireland lock horns, the Reds will be out to prove the loss of Bale doesn’t weaken them as significantly as is often suggested. Should they naivigate Georgia without issue, the pressure will be on Ireland to gain a result in Cardiff. It may also strength Chris Coleman’s argument that Wales can get the job done without Bale.
If you have a passion for sport and would like to write or design for S57onSport contact us today by clicking here.