Coleman bows to Real pressure over Bale call-up
The Wales forward will remain in Valdebebas during the international break. Real Madrid were concerned about another injury setback.
Wales manager Chris Coleman eventually decided against calling up Gareth Bale for the forthcoming friendly internationals against Northern Ireland and Ukraine, effectively bowing to pressure from Real Madrid to omit the injury-prone forward over the club’s fears Bale could suffer a recurrence if his calf problem ahead of the Champions League quarterfinals. When Bale last played for his country he returned to Madrid with a similar problem.
It was speculated that if Bale was called up he would feature in the match against Northern Ireland in Cardiff, Wales’ last home fixture before the European Championship, but be spared the trip to Ukraine on March 28, chiefly because his wife is expecting to give birth to their second child on the 29th.
Real’s caution is well-founded. Bale has suffered six separate calf injuries since his arrival at the Bernabéu in 2013, one of the more recent instances coming after an international break in which the forward played the full 90 minutes of a qualification dead rubber against Andorra. Following this Fifa stoppage, Real face Barcelona in the Clásico at Camp Nou on April 2, before the Champions League quarterfinal first leg the following week.
Bale’s latest injury came in the match against Sporting on January 17. He was out of action for almost two months, returning against Celta on March 5. Since Zinedine Zidane took over at the Bernabéu, Bale has played 281 minutes of a possible 1,170 (24 percent of the total), missing a total of eight full games. Of the remainder, Bale was substituted in four (Depor, Sporting, Roma and Las Palmas) and he started on the bench against Celta, coming on for the final 24 minutes. Under Zidane, only Jesé (275 minutes), Nacho (208), Borja Mayoral (199), Álvaro Arbeloa (90) keeper Kiko Casilla and Rubén Yáñez, who have yet to feature for the Frenchman, have played less.
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